Voice of conscience is our ability to make a practical decision in light of ethical values and principles. It is a person’s moral compass of right and wrong as well as consequences of one’s actions. E.g., it was Gandhiji’s voice of conscience that compelled him to call off the Non-Cooperation Movement after the Chauri Chaura incident
Expression such as feeling of guilt etc are also an expression of the voice of conscience. Conscience is also the last resort to decide the actions that one needs to take in a given situation. E.g., in situations ethical dilemmas for public servants one adheres to the voice of conscience to decide between conflicting values
Preparation for voice of conscience
Conscience is not built in isolation. A human being builds his/her conscience over a period of time via primary and secondary socialization. Primary socialization includes the learnings from family and peer group. Secondary socialization is done via schools, colleges and workplace values.
One can heed to the voice of conscience in the following ways:-
1. learn the best practices of great moral leaders and take clue from their actions e.g., from the life stories of Gandhiji, Vivekananda etc
2. to train oneself to inculcate those values that one learns via primary and secondary socialization. Gandhiji used to say that be the change you want to see in the world
3. to adhere to intrinsic values of compassion, integrity and tolerance in any given situation
4. identify the ethical issues at hand and then try to take a decision best suited for both personal as well as professional well-being
5. to treat human beings as end in themselves and not as means to an end
To conclude, conscience is the ultimate guide to moral actions. It needs to be cultivated as human beings are essentially flawed beings. We make mistakes and learn from them to shape our conscience in decision making.