What gives us a conscience; the angel that sits opposite of the devil on our shoulder countering everything the demon whispers in our ear? How did the inner workings of our mind learn to compartmentalize the voice of good and evil? Are we born with an understanding of right and wrong or are we programmed to adjust our conscience accordingly?
Look back to the early days of your childhood and try to recall how you felt when you acted against your parent’s wishes. Did you feel an immediate sense of guilt, or was it not until you were reprimanded that you suddenly felt that twinge of a knot tighten in your chest? Consequences eventually conditions us to behave in a fashion that society deems acceptable.
I believe that we are born with a pure animal instinct we all try to deny. The only true trait that is instilled within us naturally is that of survival. We have been trained to act in a humane manner regardless of our biological makeup. We know that to eat our weakest young as a means of overcoming starvation is not only wicked but morbid. Some animals implement this as a means of survival.
In some cultures, human sacrifice is common practice. To those displaying such rituals are performing what their conscience has encouraged as noble. In most western culture, this is seen as grotesquely morbid. My question is this, is one belief right over the other?
We live in an area where unless specially designed as a vegan or vegetarian establishment, seldom would you come across an eatery which does not serve beef. Go to parts of India however and you will find that the partaking of livestock is an abomination. When I eat steak, I am simply nourishing my body. There is no guilt associated whatsoever. Some parts of the world would find my hunger for beef sinful the same way I find their meals made from the flesh of humans psychologically twisted.
What my conscience judges unfit, someone else’s might provoke as holy. Without society shepherding us through right and wrong, we would all be left with the animalistic instinct of survival potentially leading to bloodshed and chaos. Perhaps the rituals embodied throughout cultures foreign to us are gruesome, it is what creates their conscience allowing a balance of righteousness. It is essential to docile the animal living within us because at the end of the day, a conscience is not something we are born with, survival is. Our conscience is simply the way in which society allows us to tame our natural instincts of survival.