A matter of conscience

October 1, 2007 at 11:42 am 3 comments

Like you, probably, I’ve been amazed and humbled, in the past week or so, by the story of the Buddhist monks in Myanmar (Burma) quietly and peacefully resisting their totalitarian regime.

LewRockwell.com this morning features an article by Henry Porter, entitled “The faith of the oppressed can topple the worst tyrants,” inspired by the horrifying police-state revenge visited upon these monks who are acting according to conscience. Porter’s thesis is that organized religion often stands as a beacon, and churches as a rallying place, showing their people the way to freedom in dark times of oppression. He uses in particular the Nicholaikirche example from Leipzig, East Germany in 1989 that led eventually to the tearing down of the Berlin Wall.

Being a contrarian of sorts, I’d like to tweak his thesis a little. In fact, I’d like to suggest that it isn’t religion that provides the fuel of leadership in such cases. Rather, it’s the powerful example, often demonstrated by religious “leaders,” of examining and then acting upon one’s conscience. It’s morality in living, principled action.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s appeal for “righteousness like an everlasting stream” wasn’t directed merely to Christians. The Huguenot pastor Andre’ Trocme’, in France during the Vichy years (whose story is told in Philip Hallie’s book, Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed), acted out of his personal sense of rightness – informed, certainly, by his religious beliefs – to hide Jewish children from Nazi agents.

Morality, decency, ethical behavior are not and never have been the monopoly of organized religion – but rather of principled, decent, good-hearted and clear-minded individuals acting as their own conclusions lead them to do. (Religion knows this, and has been known to fight the fact tooth and nail.) Gandhi, for example, was not a clergyman – rather, he began his career as a lawyer and elected official. His individual study into Hindu and other philosophy colored his choice of stance and action.

And look at Rep. Dr. Ron Paul. What a shining exponent of principled, moral action – and resistance to the tactics of tyrants. What a lovely and hope-giving response this man of obvious good conscience – and good cheer – is engendering among Americans of all stripes (except those in the mainstream media), who (perhaps only now) are realizing how fed up they have become with encroaching statism.

Men and women of good conscience – of clear awareness – of free, generous spirit – exist in all walks of life. Let us – please, oh please – seek them out and honor them when and where we find them. Let us encourage and support them, as we encourage our own glowing ember of love for integrity to burst into the flames of action. Let us aspire and strive to emulate them – because the admiration we feel for them as ethical individuals is the voice of our own good conscience reminding us of who we are as well.


Entry filed under: Big Picture, Doing Freedom, Free Your Mind, Living Free, Outlawry.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Brian Nickerson  |  October 1, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    Well said. Very well said.

  • 2. Taran Jordan  |  October 1, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    Thanks for that, Brian. Thanks also for being a regular reader, and for continuing to think deeply and seriously about freedom. You ought to blog. 😉

  • 3. Brian Nickerson  |  October 4, 2007 at 9:19 am

    I’m very much flattered that you think so, but I’m not really up to it. I don’t have the motivation.


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