Website owner:  James Miller

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Conscience requires one to thwart natural inclination and take an unnatural route

   The natural thing is to follow the impulses, desires, passions 
   and feelings wherever they may lead.  That is the natural and 
   easy thing to do.  The unnatural and hard thing is to restrain, 
   check and control oneself because of the dictates of mind, 
   conscience and intellect.  To simply follow one's feelings is 
   easy; to thwart these feelings, to go against them, to exercise 
   self-control, self-denial in regard to them is difficult.  To 
   simply be ruled by one's feelings is easy; to bring oneself 
   under the rule of one's intellect and conscience is hard.  Yet 
   if we simply freely follow our own impulses, desires, passions 
   and feelings we will be acting purely selfishly, without regard 
   for anyone else.  Our conscience dictates that we consider 
   others, consider what harm we might do to them; that we put 
   ourselves down and put others ahead of ourselves.  And that 
   means that we must bring ourselves under subjugation, that we 
   must do what we don't want to do in order to do what is right.  
   All of this is the very essence of morality and character.  We 
   take the hard road, the road we don't like, the road that 
   denies us pleasure, the road of self-denial, in order to do 
   what is right.  As the ancient Greeks subjected their bodies to 
   a regimen and discipline in training for olympic contests even 
   so we place ourselves under a regimen and discipline in order 
   to follow a higher way; a way of goodness, right and moral 
   principle.  If we always did just what we felt like doing with 
   no regard for anyone else we would always grab the biggest 
   piece of meat on the plate and the biggest piece of pie; we 
   would always place ourselves at the head of the table; we would 
   steal from other people those things we saw and wanted; we 
   would lie and cheat whenever it seemed useful to do so in order 
   to gain something we might like; we would freely pursue a life 
   of pleasure, drink, women and drugs; we would just do anything 
   we wished and have a really merry time.  We would let neither 
   conscience nor reason stand in the way of anything.  

   And now that we have described how a person guided only by his 
   impulses, appetites and feelings would act let us ask a question: 
   Isn't this a pretty close approximation to the way the vast 
   majority of people in our society, the masses, really do act? 

   Sept 1986

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