Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Choices, Choices ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Choices, Choices ; Bringing a Spiritual Perspective to Daily Life

Article excerpt

Elections, like the ones coming up in Germany this week, invite us to feel in a very special way what it means to live in a democracy, where elections take place regularly and where politicians are reminded that they come to power only by popular mandate.

It's important to vote - to show that we understand the value of being a citizen, the value of being part of a democracy. And in order to vote rightly, it is as indispensable to be informed as it is to listen - to listen to the cooling, quiet voice of God speaking to us as the voice of conscience.

Conscience is the capacity to judge properly one's own moral thoughts and actions. The term goes back to the Latin word conscientia meaning a consciousness for moral actions. But even deeper, it means con-scientia, a knowledge parallel to another.

The concept of conscience has its roots in antiquity and means that for all actions concerning the gods and men, there is an inner accessory - a knowledge parallel to another - and it is this basic concept that leads to its central position within early Christianity. For the early Christians, as for us today, conscience is connected to the special relationship we have with our creator, infinitely intelligent, divine Love.

What role does conscience play when it comes to voting for a candidate or a party? I remember a difficult moment in the history of a society that I was a member of for many years.

We had to elect a chair of the board, and the membership was divided. We had 20 ballots, each time reaching a stalemate. Tears flowed, and fears and anger ran deep. I cannot recall my emotions, but I remember some thoughts I had - thoughts that led to the conviction that if the other candidate won, our organization would go down the drain. Voting for this candidate went against my conscience, I thought. I assume that others felt the same way. After many hours, the president dismissed the meeting and we all went home.

I knew I had to face a foe, and it was not the candidate I so utterly disliked. It was my conviction that this candidate couldn't possibly fulfill his duties well. Best intentions, pure motives - were they only to be found on my side? …

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