“Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking.”–Henry Louis Mencken
It would be foolish to assume that conscience can do its job — without its FIRST being the voice of a high dream.
In coaching, a high dream is “alert awareness” recognizing itself. A high dream IS our capacity to stand in the present and recognize what we want in the current moment … because it arises from who we know ourselves to be. We select what we perceive based on our desire for self-recognition.
“Did you forget that men prefer peace and even death to having to choose between good and evil?” – from the play, The Grand Inquisitor
The “2% truth” holds that every opinion we have possesses 2% of the truth. No one is completely wrong – OR – completely right. A full 98% is un-determinable except by consensus. And not that “consensus” gets it right. Consensus merely reflects the popularity of the opinion. “A lie told long enough becomes the truth.” This cynical adage illustrates both our need for consensus and the difficulty we have in obtaining one. Coordinated response is impossible with too much disparity. Yet, we are often at a loss when trying to confirm either our opinion or the opinion of others.
“And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills / ‘Till Landslide brought me down.” – Stevie Nicks from the song Landslide
I went to visit my 83-year old mother yesterday. She struggles with Parkinson’s, a disease the makes everything harder.
And during our afternoon banter, she asks me: “Do you remember what the 5-year old boy says to his mother when asked to recite the golden rule? — “Do it to others before they do it to you.”
“Man stands in his own shadow and wonders why it’s dark.” – a Zen saying
Developmental shifts happen all the time. And they are very hard to spot.
In my last blog (…conscience as necessary forgiveness…), I described the developmental shift that happens when the intangible is more highly valued than the tangible. Necessary forgiveness re-establishes trust. Trust and forgiveness are what we give ourselves once we accept the intangible – both as an expectation and as an agreement. There is more than “heaven and earth” here – if we can learn to see it.
“Complete possession is proved only by giving. All you are unable to give possesses you.” — Andre Gide
I need to apologize.
My last blog, entitled …conscience as the folly of self-determination…, might have led some of you to assume I’m NOT in favor of self-determination. Au contraire. What coach would be worth is salt if he/she did not place high value on self-determination?
So I need to be more nuanced. Self-determination is no folly; it’s just that issues of conscience cannot be solved by focusing solely on self-determination. No one is an island. So being transparent and honest about our need for shared interdependence and trust gives us a whole lot more room to work with.
“Being smart about life leads us down a superior but narrow road of self-deception.” — Thomas Moore
I bet you missed it.
This year’s Oscar-award winning animated short, “The Lost Thing” by Shaun Tan, is a marvelously envisioned parable of redemption. I recommend it.
During his acceptance speech, Tan said “Our film is about a creature that nobody pays any attention to, so this is wonderfully ironic.” How true … the irony of misplaced redemption.
Misplaced you ask? How can redemption be misplaced? Well, in exactly the same way that self-determination can misplace one’s conscience. We sometimes forget where we put it. We need to be reminded that it’s right HERE … inside us … all the time.
“That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the task itself has become easier, but that our ability to perform it has improved.” – Emerson
Whether we realize it or not, we carry a future orientation, a continuing belief in something more … something more for us and for the world we live in … and along with that belief comes disappointment.
Our ability to be conscientious … to do the right thing, to hold a sense of integrity about our actions and decisions … that capacity doesn’t include disappointment does it? Disappointment is supposed to come afterward … after we are done, learning, committing and doing, right? After we have exercised conscientious action … well, maybe not …
I don’t like being disappointed any more than you do!