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Conscience, the defence against corruption

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

Corruption has seeped into every stream. Can we save ourselves as a civilisation?

CONSCIENCE IS the light of the Soul that burns within the chambers of our psychological heart. It is as real as life is. It raises the voice in protest whenever anything is thought of or done contrary to the righteousness. Conscience is a form of truth that has been transferred through our genetic stock in the form of the knowledge of our own acts and feelings as right or wrong.

Conscience is also a great ledger where our offences are booked and registered. It is a terrible witness. It threatens, promises, rewards, and punishes, keeping all under its control. If conscience stings once, it is an admonition, if twice, it is a condemnation. Cowardice asks, "Is it safe?" Greed asks, "Is there any gain in it?" Vanity asks, "Can I become great?" Lust asks, "Is there pleasure in it?" But conscience asks, "Is it right?" Why have we become deaf to its voice? Insensitive to its pricks? Callous to its criticism?

The answer is corruption.

Corruption is an assault on consciousness. The habit of taking bribes and seeking favours has become very common. People holding important positions have developed inconsiderateness to their conscience. They pretend everything is all right. Do they not have an idea of the law of action and reaction? Have they forgotten how impressions of the subconscious mind and their force work? If you take bribes, your thoughts and actions are registered in the subconscious mind. Will you not be carrying forward your dishonesty to your next generations causing them great suffering? It is a painful reality that corruption has become a way of life affecting all aspects of living, personal as well as social. It is not merely the pecuniary corruption but other forms as well. Immoral ways of people holding high positions and handling power have taken away guilt from the minds of lesser mortals. What a dangerous situation? A great civilisation is endangered.

A virtuous man alone can use the instrument of conscience. He alone can hear the inner voice of the soul clearly. In a wicked man this faculty is dead. The sensitive nature of his conscience has been destroyed by sin or corruption. Hence he is unable to discriminate right from wrong. Those who are leading organisations, business enterprises, institutions and governments, how can they be corrupt? Is it not wise to have a clean conscience and enjoy freedom from anxiety and all kinds of worries? If you do wrong actions and sinful deeds and treat them lightly today, you will not hesitate to perform serious crimes tomorrow. If you allow one sin to enter and dwell in your conscience, you pave the way for the entry of a thousand sins. Your conscience will become blunt and lose its sensitivity. The habit of doing evil deeds will pervade the whole body like the poison of a scorpion.

Do you know when you are corrupt, your children who are indeed enjoying the fruits of your corruption are mocking at you? After all they are well informed and knowledgeable. Your parental mask is too thin to hide the contempt of your children. You are no more the role model of your own children. Is this disgrace not enough? Our society is fast reaching a stage where the immunity of conscience of people holding positions of consequence is challenged by the corruption, as HIV would do to the body of an AIDS patient. The corruption has seeped into every stream of our life-blood. Can we save ourselves as a civilisation?

Spiritual leaders have evolved morals, codes, and teachings of righteousness. Beautiful hymns, songs and prayers have been written and composed. But the annihilation of conscience by corruption appears frightening. Religion has not been effective in evoking conscience. Who then will? Can our conscience be redeemed?

A movement through the Foundation for Unity of Religions and Enlightenment of Citizenship (FUREC) against corruption has to be made as a new feature.

(Based on President Kalam's interaction with Jain Muni Acharya Shri Mahapragya on his 86th Birthday on July 4, 2005 in New Delhi.)

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