Personal Responsibility & Conscience
By Deanna Spingola
8 February 2005

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My personal faith includes the concept that “the worth of souls is great in the sight of God”.  The soul can be defined as the combination of the spirit and the temporal body. The spirit, dwelling within the physical body, gives life to the body.  The creation of man or mankind was the crowning touch of the creation story as given in Genesis. From the scriptures, we have reason to believe that He has a vested interest in our personal welfare. We also have reason to believe that he has given us the tools for personal progress.

By divine inheritance we possess intelligence, characteristics and attributes that the creatures we have dominion over do not have. These attributes enable us, as his sons and daughters, to experience growth and benefit from life’s opportunities. One attribute, our conscience, serves as an inspiring guide in using our free agency. It is our responsibility to listen to our conscience, rather than to the multitude of often strident screaming voices, to determine the difference between right and wrong. All of this provides meaning and purpose for our lives and requires a higher standard of behavior than expected in the animal kingdom.

Because we all have a conscience we cannot justifiably excuse our behavior by claiming ignorance. If this were not the case God could not punish us for our sins. The commandments are static and eternal and cannot lawfully be changed by legislative action, activist groups or well paid lobbyists. The government does not have the legal power to legislate morality or promote immorality. “It stands to reason that the government itself has no innate power or privilege to do anything. Its only source of authority and power is from the people who have created it.”  (The Proper Role of Government) Self serving politicians use controversial issues to gain votes at the sacrifice of principles. Politics without principles create tyranny and chaos. The citizens of Sodom were not correct because of their great numbers. The unwise use of free agency carries consequences. Our free agency does not give us license to do whatever we want. We are free to exercise our agency but not free from the consequences.

While animals may lack a conscience they possess instinct. This endowment, unique to them, alerts them to dangers from the environment or from predators. This instinct also prevents wild animals from eating GM (genetically manipulated) foods. In the recent Asian tsunami the numerous animals living within the 391 square mile Yala wildlife reserve in Sri Lanka moved to higher ground. In spite of the devastation in the reserve, no dead animals have been found. They wisely responded to their instincts and escaped the otherwise tragic consequences.

Our faithful founding fathers recognized the eternal principle of free agency and understood the inherent responsibilities associated with living in a civilized community of individuals. They established, at great personal sacrifice, a republic (not a democracy), governed by absolute principles outlined in the Heaven inspired constitution. The Bill of Rights was the first undertaking of the new congress. The ten amendments guaranteed the fundamental freedoms that the American people claim as theirs by the will of God, not a bequest of the government. If followed these timeless documents would help us experience peace and prosperity.

Some balk at the idea of individual responsibility and frequently blame their personal failings to parents, poverty, prejudice or other circumstances. However, they are quick to attribute whatever accomplishments they attain to their own brilliance, talent or effort. Many find it easy to live off the efforts of others through the redistribution of wealth directed by our ever increasing and controlling government. Long term welfare produces long term dependence which diminishes self respect, hope, faith and self reliance. People in this situation rely on the government rather than themselves and God for sustenance, strength, courage and personal problem solutions.

Life brings suffering to each of us in the form of illness, death, financial loss, divorce, lost employment and a myriad of other tribulations. Considering the society that we live in we could easily become the victim of a crime. While difficulty may cause frustration, grief, bitterness and frequently self pity our struggles can be sources of strength. Even in the midst of misfortune, we have the responsibility to respond with character and decency. We choose our response. We choose to be happy, sad, bitter or miserable.

 The internationally renowned psychiatrist, Victor E. Frankl, was an inmate at the infamous Nazi death camp Auschwitz during World War 11 and wrote of his experiences in his book “Man’s Search for Meaning”. He asks “Is there no spiritual freedom in regard to behavior and reaction in any given surroundings?” False theories would have us believe that man is no more than a mere product of his environment. Yet in the worst imaginable circumstances of the death camp there were inmates who went about comforting others and sharing what little food they had with someone they thought needed it more. Those individuals provided proof that everything could be taken from a man except one thing – the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance. Frankl states: “No one has the right to do wrong, even if wrong has been done to them.”

 An individual cannot reasonably say that he is a drug addict, criminal, sex abuser, wife beater, and murderer because he grew up in poverty, lived in the wrong neighborhood or was otherwise deprived.

 It is time for those who feel entitled to stand on their own and take responsibility for their failings as well as their successes. Mistakes occur because of misuse of agency and lack of attention to conscience. Each of us, no matter what our position or circumstances, must take responsibility for our behavior in relation to the principles we are bound by.

 Though not bound by our constitution, will the abusive gun toting Nazi prison guard, living in a Christian country, suffer consequences even though he or she was merely following orders? Will the women who use abortion for birth control or convenience suffer consequences? Will the serial child abuser experience consequences for the destruction of lives that he has caused?

 Perhaps we should all listen to the superior voice of our conscience and like the Sri Lanka animals who listened to their inner voice, move to higher ground to escape the inevitable? The foundation was laid by the blood of brave patriots but the foundation appears to be in a state of decay caused by the constant onslaught of activist judges and self serving members of congress who ignore the people who elected them. The all important foundation can only support the structure as long as it is sound. When will the remainder of the dwelling fall?

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