J.F. Clarke wrote, “The bravest of individuals is the one who obeys his or her conscience.”what do you think this means?
The undercurrent of this quote is the notion of courage. There is a sense of personal courage and dignity which seems to be present in this idea of obedience to one's conscience. In this quote, I am also struck by the fact that external enticements are secondary to one's own sense of moral right and wrong. The previous post discussed the level of action in Nazi Germany and this resonates in the quote. Within such a setting, the strongest of people were the ones who were able to hear the voice of human compassion which was present in their own soul and stand up to the forces of oppression. I like the idea of being able to hear the voice of human dignity and righteousness despite all levels of external pressure.
J.F.Clarke equates human beings as having the knowledge and ability to know right from wrong. A person's inner self is cognizant of the virtues of his/her own decisions and why they make those decisions. Society mandates that people obey social laws and moral laws based on their surroundings and the pressure of others. To be brave means to have courage. Courage does not always come at the risk of death but at the risk of harm or being ostracized by others.
If a person knows that something is morally wrong but does nothing because of pride, need of respect, protection of family or self, that person has not allowed them selves to face the challenge of morality that he/she knows is present. For example; during the Nazi reign in Germany many people believed what the Nazis were doing to the Jews was wrong and immoral. It was only a few that were brave enough to stand against the laws of the government, the military, and risk their own life and that of their families for the sake of obeying their own conscience that was telling them the actions of the Nazis were wrong.
When you obey your conscience, you always take the high road, and do the morally defensible, upright thing. It is not always a simple matter in practice; especially when doing the right thing, instead of the convenient thing, can leave you isolated, unpopular, tired or misunderstood. That is why it may take an act of courage to follow your conscience.