To actually genuinely love another person requires that we have a well-developed conscience. Without a conscience we may feel affection for another, we may say we love another, but we will not actually treat another with love, respect, goodness, appreciation, real care and concern–in other words, we will not treat him or her as we would want ourselves to be treated; rather we will, in subtle or not so subtle ways, exploit him or her, take the person for granted (instead of with gratitude). Real love depends on having a well-formed and functioning conscience. To truly love another and see the face of God depends on having a well-formed and functioning conscience. Which explains why there is so little real love in the world–because most of us do not have very well-developed consciences; in fact most of our consciences seem to be underdeveloped! Yet it is only by having our conscience truly come to life and kick its functioning into a higher gear that we too come more truly to life and come to actually care about others–and ourselves–in a much more tangible and truly humane and respectful way . . . we want to be truly good to them; we want to be truly good to ourselves; we are released from the prison of self and self-concern and looking out for number one, and instead we are free to look out for everyone–or at least more and more people–and befriend more of humanity–and ourselves, treating others not predatorily or exploitatively, but looking out for them as we would our own younger brothers and sisters and family members.
Developing and nurturing our conscience is what allows us to make this shift and learn how, for the first time, to truly love another as ourselves.
Some of my favorite Martin Luther King Jr quotes . . .
“The ultimate measure of a human being is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
“The day we see the truth and cease to speak is the day we begin to die.”
“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”
“A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.”
“Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.”
“On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ And Vanity comes along and asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But Conscience asks the question ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.”