Thursday, February 23, 2006

Continual Christmas

A good conscience is a continual Christmas.
Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790, American Scientist/Publisher/Diplomat

The conscience is our internal police force, warning us of things that pose a danger or locking us up once we commit whatever we were cautioned about. I get memos often; some I heed, others I do not, according to the whim of human nature that we all struggle to harness and control. Success or failure, the main thing is that I make an effort.
Another meaning for it is an awareness of something, but whatever measure of awareness we possess is set by each of us. Like the volume of a headset, we control how loud the warnings are. And we can increase the power of the police by using empathy to put ourselves into the shoes of whomever will be affected by actions we take.
Long ago I made one persons happiness more important than anyone's and all around me people paid. Once an act is committed it is easier to re-commit, unless you guard against it. Awareness of a pattern makes it an instant job for the police and turning up the volume helps produce the empathy necessary to make a choice that will not demand a lock down later.
I do not regret my own pain; in a real way it gave me a fuller kind of life by leading me here. But, I do regret the pain I caused directly or indirectly by poor choices made long ago. The volume is up now, and empathy a presence of mind I embrace to defend against troubling my conscience with the same tired crimes.