Monday, June 9, 2014

Battlefield Conscience

"A king may move a man. A father may claim a son. But remember that, even when those who move you be kings or men of great power, your soul is in your keeping alone. When you stand before God you cannot say 'But I was told by others to do thus,' or that 'Virtue was not convenient at the time.' This will not suffice. Remember that."
--King Baldwin IV (Kingdom of Heaven)

Wonderful essay by Leonard Read originally written in 1951. The essay finds a critically wounded soldier on the battlefield conversing with his conscience about the legitimacy of his worldly actions--particularly as they pertained to engaging in war.

The banter draws out a number of points previously considered on these pages, such as the "I was just following orders" excuse to rationalize acts of aggression.

I would put this essay in front of all young adults--particularly those considering military service.

His points that I wanted to highlight here are a more general ones. One is that "not knowing" is no excuse if people fail to engage their power to reason--a gift granted by God to help us test what we experience against what is correct and erroneous. It is our responsibility to engage our reasoning capacity to the best of our ability in pursuit of truth.

The other, related, point is made by Read's Conscience toward the end. Conscience states that although it is subject to error, "I am as close to God as you can get on this earth."

That statement left its mark on me.

1 comment:

dgeorge12358 said...

To put one’s self into communion with Truth is the first of all virtues.
~Leonard Read