The Language of Conscience requires a
systematic approach to balancing diverse interests harmoniously through an
organizational concept recognizing that every man should grant to every other
man the same rights and dignity that he personally desires, and must, through
cultural ethics create a personal responsibility that accentuates the
recognition of the broader impact of actions. Its enforcement mechanism is
individual responsibility and the wisdom to understand the methods of creating
strength rather than abandoning it..
In modern science, there is a continuing
search for a unified theory that becomes the ultimate organizing principle of
physics. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity governs the Heavens and the great
objects while the Theory of Quantum Mechanics covers the atomic and small
particles. While the two are obviously connected, the two sets of existing
“rules” for large and small objects are not consistent. String Theory and other
conceptual approaches are primarily based at how to bring together these two
significant sets of physical rules in a unified theory. Such organizing
theories set perspective and are critical because how you think about issues
determines what you think about them.
In many ways, we have a similar situation in
the concepts of the political science of government and the social science of
the individual. We need to find an organizing principle that ties together the
large-scale efforts and policies of government with the individual interests
and incentives of the people that compose the state. The separation between
government and the individual is in some ways similar to the Theories of
Relativity and Quantum Physics because they are inherently related but are not
fully coordinated or understood. However, physical science is exact; social
science is a moving, evolving, emotional entity that is far more complex. It is
the result of man’s free will. An appreciation of the common good and the
Golden Rule may be the equivalent of string theory. To affect a proper
organizing principle, a theory must create a system of rules within government
that is easily understood and that recognizes the Moral Hazard of incentivizing
riskless activity such that it dramatically changes the rules for individual
responsibility and respect for personal dignity. It must help instill a culture
of integrity within government to limit corruption and build confidence. It
must create a simplified but realistic view of policy options so that an
informed public gains wisdom and confidence. It must bring Harmony to the
separate interests by ethics or the recognition of the impact of policies on
all parties. Its critical role is to provide thoughtful rather than emotional
choice to how critical issues must be balanced since this sets the stage for
policy and ultimate destiny.
Confucius focused on preparing leaders for
government in the hope that their moral and competent leadership would set the
pattern by example for the masses. He did not focus on religion (man’s
relationship with God) but a simpler morality (man’s relation to other men).
These are two different levels of conscience, but you need to strengthen the
morality even if you differ on promoting religion. Not to do so sacrifices the
good for the perfect too often in the battle of conscience versus convenience.
It must necessarily be a beginning organizing principle if you wish to bring
change in today’s environment. As Sun Tzu noted, if you are to win
strategically, you must carefully pick your battles or you have already lost.
The level of complexity in the modern requiem is a method of simplification for
change. Economics and politics are too complex; cultural approaches offer more
The organizing principle must also help
address the creation of an informed citizenry with a leadership component not
of the elite minority alone but of a broader based localized class of “Uncommon
Men” or Confucian “Gentlemen.” They can often create a culture that supports
understanding of the necessity of the rule of law, the mutual obligation of
morality, and the necessity of compassion and voluntary service to the common
good. For it is the ultimate culture that passes values to the next generation,
often not just as a thought process but also as a perceptive instinct of what
is correct or incorrect. These type leaders often compose only 10% of a
society, but because of their activism and leadership dramatically affect the
culture and, through it, the law and philosophy of government. Since the talent
to unify people when they are in very different groups will be increasingly
important, it then is a necessity of any such cultural change to have an
understanding of a common thought process and common values upon which to
The Language of Conscience and the related
writings basically are an attempt to explore this common thought process
through a focus upon culture and how cultural values and their adaptability to
change tend to either strengthen the bonds between groups or make them decline,
and how societies prosper or fail in large part because of how well this bond
is created. Conscience is defined by acceptance of individual responsibility.
Conscience becomes the over-arching organizing principle by becoming the
strategic design. Military procedure looks at four levels of
thoughts—strategic, operational, tactical, and the use of techniques. Each is a
part of the descending pyramid of actions. But they are all viewed by the
organizing principle that defines them and creates the ultimate decision
matrix. If society is to be directed by conscience, then the decision matrix is
to give each man the same rights and dignities you want for yourself and defend
the values you choose by what the common good provides each of us. Conscience
is important because it is more definable than good versus evil, which has
religious contexts. The ultimate issue is that some absolutes of behavior must
exist for civilization to have order. Civilization creates natural rules to
structure free will to commonly accepted limits—this is culture in its essence.
Conscience at one level is between men and defines their morality or obligation
to each other beyond the requirements of law. It can be a decision matrix that
develops the law and its enforcement, the unenforceable but natural law of
morality, and the developed appreciation of the practice of compassion and
service that become the glue of a strong society.
The modern world is one of rapid change
driven by knowledge creation more than wisdom. Globalization creates powers in
functions because consequences of actions are beyond the control of individual
nations. Central banks must work together now to address economic crisis.
Disease, terrorism, and corruption now know no borders. Power moves to an
international elite that shape key factors of change or powers within society.
That elite can easily manipulate their interests through the divisions and
convenience of a world order unless a more uniform coordinated effort, at least
in certain fields such as corruption, terrorism, health, trade, the
environment, and other similar issues are jointly addressed by a common
cultural imperative. But to succeed, such systems and forums need a base of
sincerity and honor beyond meetings for appearances, which are often for
self-hypocrisy or self-interest. Unless the world as a whole understands the
need and value of rules of civilization, there is no force to constrain the
power of international elites that are swayed by the arrogance and greed of
power. Is it utopia to envision such an end? Probably so in the modern context,
but time and crisis require ideas that may be more radical to reality. The
issue is really what options exist. Terrorism and corruption are not strategic
goals but tactics. We have to understand the ultimate issues even if we can
only be partially successful.
To implement conscience in this environment
requires a different approach that both understands the reality of what is
faced, agrees on a decision matrix of organizational principles that can be
publicized and accepted, and understands that ethics and morality have two
operational theaters. One is the negative—to battle against corruption,
tyranny, and terrorism—but the other is the creation of a culture of conscience
that has the power to shape leadership. People will judge you positively to a
degree for your ethics, but they often punish far more for negative ethics
because of their self-interest when you lose their trust. The Internet and
modern communication will greatly enhance this power of ethics, both using and
abusing it. But it is limited if there is not a level of wisdom. Too much
information today is superficial and of opinion with little depth. How
information is presented will be critical. Our modern communication does not
create a mindset for long thought as books used to provide, at least for the
majority of the younger population. As our electronically based youth advance
in age, what values will they have absorbed? How the communication takes place
will determine much of what is retained and how it is put into context.
“Learning games” may well be a salvation to conveying wisdom as well as
knowledge. But the question exists whether such “games” develop the maturity
necessary for wisdom. To Lao-tzu and the older Western character school this
involved recognizing one’s inner weaknesses and demons and learning with effort
to control them. Today education is more on self-appreciation. Conscience is
the key concept to either if it is recognized or taught. It needs to again be
the criteria of maturity.
This summary requires the creation of what
Confucius called “Gentlemen” or my Father called “Uncommon Men.” Those who
gained the wisdom of understanding the differences a few men with ideas could
make by shaping the culture of times and leveraging the power of conscience
through service and a culture of the common good. They lead by example and
convey knowledge not just by words, but also by actions that create habits and
prescriptive reflexes of thought and actions. They show the value of actions.
My Father made a point to me that humility is a virtue and a good strategy.
They demonstrate that good character is not weakness but is the ultimate
strength. Wisdom is never abandoning strength but creating it.
From that culture the Triangles and method
use of the concept helps organize the public policy arena for easier discussion
and prioritizations of options as well as the Moral Hazard attached to them.
The universities have in most cases left the teaching of the classics and the
value orientation and context they provided. In part, this is because the
modern competitive financial world requires very specialized skills. These
materials then also move toward a simplified course like presentation that uses
synthesis of the old great ideas with a modern public policy setting, to focus
on creating an “educated person” of honor and strategic focus.