Last night I read Parabola magazine, the spring issue with its theme The Quest. I went to bed up-lifted, and then rose to read the news of the evening before. A racist is awarded the Medal of Freedom.
Where do I put it?
Where do I place my trust? Of course, I know it comes from inside.
I quote Vaclav Havel who spoke before a joint session of Congress in 1989 after becoming the first president of Czechoslovakia after its transition from the communist regime to a new democratic government. He said:
Consciousness precedes being, and not the other way around, as the Marxists claim. For this reason, the salvation of the human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human modesty, and in human responsibility.
Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better in the sphere of our Being as humans, and the catastrophe toward which this world is headed, whether it be ecological, social, demographic, or a general breakdown of civilization, will be unavoidable ….
Interests of all kinds – personal, selfish, state, national, group, and if you like, company interests – still considerably outweigh genuinely common and global interests …. We are still destroying the planet that was entrusted to us … We still don’t know how to put morality ahead of politics, science and economics. We are still incapable of understanding that the only genuine core of all our actions – if they are to be moral – is responsibility.
Responsibility to something higher than my family, my country, my firm, my success. Responsibility to the order of Being, where all our actions are indelibly recorded and where, and only where, they will be properly judged.
The interpreter or mediator between us and this higher authority is what is traditionally referred to as human conscience. If I subordinate my political behavior to this imperative, I can’t go far wrong. If, on the contrary, I am not guided by this voice, not even ten presidential schools with two thousand of the best political scientists in the world could help me.
I read this and wonder how we’ve come so far from the honoring of conscience, and the wholeness we are, how one man can stand before others and lie. Today will determine where conscience stands in this country, and how each of us mobilizes response.