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The Language
of Conscience

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The Language of Conscience


Former Congressman and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Archer wrote:

One of my heroes in history was Sir Thomas More, who once said, "A man who forsakes his conscience for the sake of political expedience most surely lead his country on the short path to chaos." Those words should ring in the hearts and minds of all Americans whether in private or public life. It seems ethics, morality, conscience, integrity, and character are always in short supply and in great demand. Most believe that there is a total absence of these attributes in Congress. But my experience over thirty years in the House of Representatives is that members shoulder a heavy responsibility to conduct their lives at a higher standard than the private sector because they occupy a position of prominence on view to the world. They become role models for many young Americans either by bolstering or by undermining their faith and trust in government and country.

Over all the years, in all of my actions, I was driven by my conscience. I always knew that if I strayed from my convictions of right and wrong, I would be of little worth to my country. In the end, we are always a democracy folded into a Constitutional Republic. The people ultimately do rule on all issues, and only if they support elected officials of integrity, ethics, and conscience will we see more of these characteristics in government. I compliment the author of this book for his personal integrity over the years. As this book demonstrates, his focus on life has been to attempt to bring out the best in people and try to bring them together. Those are basic efforts of all people of conscience.

The Language of Conscience is a book that helps individuals define their own perspective on life while understanding the part they can play in a much broader realm of public policy. At its core is a belief in character which is the choice of conscience over convenience. It radiates a philosophy that the pursuit of conscience is not based upon weakness, but is instead associated with strength. It recognizes that for the best of civilization men should be upright based on a culture that values integrity and rewards it, not that tries to force honor by laws that often are avoided. This book explains the importance of ideas and how they affect the culture that ultimately directs civilization. It is a guide to younger leaders and people interested in society as to how they can develop a process of reasoning and understanding that lets them contribute the most to society through a culture of service. It focuses on applying the analytics of thought to major problems by bringing together a diversity of interests that share the common trait of conscience and is far more successful than it might appear. This is especially important for being in government presents the greatest challenges to character since issues are of great importance and, thereby, heavily promoted by those self-interested. The development of an ethical background and an understanding of a broader picture of national destiny are vital.

I had the opportunity to participate in the first Texas Lyceum in 1980 which reflected these ideals, and I was joined on the program by a number of other leaders who found the timing inconvenient and the destination difficult, but who cared, as I did, that the leaders of the a younger generation were trying not only to gain understanding in how the world worked, but also how they could work with each other to reach common ideals even if their partisanship, political philosophy, and background differed. Over the twenty years that I have watched that group, I have seen a President, Senator, Congressmen, Governor, State Attorney General, and hosts of other public and private leaders emerge from it. It is worthwhile for younger leaders to truly understand and develop idealism before being tested by the reality of the world. While many believe such efforts to be fruitless in a time of partisanship, they do matter because they bring ideas and values into the process and enhance true understanding of issues. They help shape the perspective of coming leadership. Change most often occurs over time and is due to perseverance more than momentary strength.

The Language of Conscience recognizes the fact that grand strategies usually change with the early interjection of the unknown or missed execution. What is key is a vision of what you generally wish to accomplish and a trust in the instincts and abilities of your leaders to accomplish what is necessary. The authorís concept of enlightened conservatism focuses upon the creation of an ethical environment as a goal that is based primarily on the division of society and upon its leaders and values by concepts of conscience exhibited through a concern for others and the future rather than the convenience of one's immediate personal benefit. It is a different division of society than the liberal/conservative, rich/poor partisan approaches of the past and present. A global world connected by the Internet will create new challenges and environments where this concept will be increasingly relevant.

Most importantly, The Language of Conscience is designed as a handbook for young leaders, not only to show them how to bring together people of like mind and vision, but also to cement their perspectives and values so they are not easily changed in the world of business, government or politics. Men of convenience have always had an advantage over men of conscience in that they have less self-imposed restrictions on their actions. However, as is noted, the benefit of mutual association for good purpose pulls together men of conscience and is their greatest ability allowing them to succeed as they attract allies and partners for the common good far more quickly than men of convenience. Every tall oak grows from an acorn, but it takes time and favorable conditions. A nation's values and well being at the end of the century may well rest on what we teach our children and grandchildren now. The theme of The New Legacy from which this book evolved was simply stated, "Character is Destiny."

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