• July 8, 2024

    Early in childhood, we learn the pleasures of being liked. From that moment, it becomes more difficult to be free to follow our conscience.

    Because we want to be liked, we do not want to offend. If we offend someone, we think we are responsible for their reactions. We may therefore decide not to speak our mind and lose access to our own sincerity. We risk becoming social creatures, molded by prevailing customs and the thinking of our friends and neighbors, not to mention media.

    All things being equal, it is generally preferable not to offend other people. Apart from the ethical issues involved, the reactions may be dangerous, hurtful, costly in terms of valued relationships and wasteful of time and energy. Unless the other person has agreed to be challenged, it may be better not to risk offense.

    But there is also a deeper issue of following one’s own conscience. The easiest way to deaden conscience is to lie, or to practice insincerity, in order to avoid conflict and get along. Our power as individuals, to do and to reason independently, depends upon our integrity. It can too easily be compromised by the desire to be agreeable and liked.

    I do not propose a resolution of the conflicts that may arise between our integrity and the relationships we have with others. You must find your own way which enables your conscience to flourish.

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