We regularly witness people SHOUTING at one another on social media sites these days. It seems that in an age that prides itself on its tolerance and diversity, tolerance often only extends to those who happen to agree with us. Raise a question about what someone has written on one of these sites and watch the fireworks fly! Our tolerance is often exposed as being but a thin veneer.
The loud and insistent voices try to claim our attention. They seek to drown out the quieter, more considered and reflective voices. And they seek to stifle our own inner voice. This is a problem for, without access to these more thoughtful voices, we end up being buffeted from every side, like kites in a storm.
These aggressive voices don’t like it when we quietly ignore them and instead turn to our inner voice – our conscience. But be careful: your conscience is not just that thing you turn to in order to find out what you feel like doing. That’s not your conscience – that’s just you getting in touch with your personal preference or your comfort zone. There’s more to your conscience than that. A healthy and useful conscience is formed by years of experience, as you have thought and prayed about things, weighed up all the information you can find out about whatever it is, listened to the experts and the people you trust, and then you let it guide you to act in a right and appropriate manner for the good of all, and not just for the good of yourself. A healthy conscience is always open to new information and to learning from new experiences. Peace can only be found if we are prepared to listen to our mature and well-formed consciences – and if we learn to ignore the voices that seek to pull us in all directions.
This article is part of Faith Journey, a newsletter from the National Centre for Evangelisation.