Conscience…and Celebrations

A certain preacher in Jamaica is talking a lot about his conscience, these days.  His conscience, apparently, is his direct line to God.  So, when he follows his conscience, he is really doing what God wants him to do.  And he always follows it, because he is always right, and God is always right.   

Something like that.

What is conscience?  If you have one (some people supposedly don’t – or they have a malfunctioning conscience, one that’s confused) you are supposed to know right from wrong.  Your conscience will tell you, “No!  Don’t you dare do that!  You know it’s WRONG.”  Or, conversely, “Go ahead.  You are doing the RIGHT thing, even if only you know it’s the right thing, and others have their doubts.  You KNOW you are in the right.”  Very comforting.

Trapped on the wheel of conscience

Mark Twain once wrote, “A sound heart is a surer guide than an ill-trained conscience.”  So, maybe the conscience is a tricky thing; and we all know – so is the heart.  Now the Petchary is wondering whether Conscience is such a cut-and-dried, black-and-white thing after all.

Yes, Conscience with an upper case “C.”  Our preachers are fond of capitalizing their words, aren’t they.  Love!  Hypocrites!  Faith!  Backsliders!   Hallelujah!  And, of course – Jesus!  Or rather, JESUS! (all upper case). 

Not everyone is as comfortable and cozy with his conscience as our preacher is.  It can be an instrument of torture.  People wrestle with their conscience; it doesn’t always tell them what they want to hear.  It fights back.  And yet, if you don’t have one at all, anything goes…  You just have to get it under control, so that it can control you.

Conscience by Francois Chifflart
The cold blue eye of your conscience

Amnesty International created the phrase “prisoner of conscience,” in the early 1960s when the first stirrings of freedom and self-expression began to flutter in the hearts of baby boomers.  A prisoner of conscience is, however, not prisoner to his/her conscience – but, in fact, an innocent, who happens to believe, or live, in a way that others don’t like.  Someone who does not express any of these things in a violent way – yet violence is done to him, or her.

A man expresses his political views in a letter to a newspaper.  The next morning, he is woken by a knock on the door as the grey dawn flickers on the curtains of his bedroom window; and he is gone.  A woman who loves the slow movements and quiet breathing and introspection of Falun Gong is taken away in a sunny city park, because her beliefs, her spiritual being are considered subversive, superstitious, poisonous.  Defending the indigenous rights of your people; writing a blog like this; calling for better working conditions in your factory; simply raising a flag in a patriotic gesture; blowing the whistle on a corrupt public official; teaching children the “wrong” thing in school…All of these acts, and many more very simple, very quiet ones, can plunge the innocent one into weeks, months or years of darkness and punishment more cruel and heartless than you can imagine.   Many just simply…disappear.

If you don’t believe me, look at the sad, almost endless list of  human beings at  It is updated regularly – or rather, augmented.  It grows longer, and winds its way across the world.  A list.

Julian Antonio Mones Borrero
A prisoner of conscience not far from Jamaican shores

Yes, let’s look into their eyes and remember…they are human beings. 

Well, let’s end with the World Cup.  Each day has brought its new drama, its little vignette of human strength and, often enough too, unexpected frailty.  The images are wonderful:  the Uruguayan striker Suarez, his black hair in a gleaming crest, rain pouring down his face, eyes tightly shut, runs gleefully down the pitch, chased by leaping team mates – who have not endured the sheets of rain that descended on their battling colleagues. 

Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez
Suarez is pursued by his team mates

Then today there was the childlike Robinho, raising his eyes to the heavens with a look of sheer belief – or disbelief – after scoring the third pretty little goal (and his first of the tournament) for the conquering Brazil against a somewhat ragged Chilean team.

Robinho scores a goal
Thank heavens for this goal

Another celebration the Petchary always enjoys is that of Carlos Tevez, the Argentine who, like everyone’s beloved bulldog, just won’t let go of that ball.  After a stunning second goal, he tore down the pitch like a one-man tornado, his always unruly hair flying, his mouth agape in the wildest grin you ever saw, tearing at his jersey frantically.  In the end, he sank to his knees at the edge of the pitch, his jersey (where his country’s symbol was) clenched fiercely between his teeth.   He was joined by the ever-smiling Messi and the lankier, somewhat aristocratic-looking winger with the delightfully holy name of Angel Di Maria. 

Carlos Tevez is joined by Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria
Hold on a minute there, Carlos. It's not edible.

And I have to end with the powerful Black Stars of Ghana.  Their solidity and their strength is what strikes the Petchary.  In a test of stamina and resolve, they finally overcame the Americans and poured on in their glory as the sole standard-bearer for the African continent.  The Petchary’s husband calls them his “ancestors.”

Ghanaian football fans celebrate
No shaking, baby...crazy fans back home in Accra

 Yep, those legs are strong, and…the Petchary needs someone to explain the cooking pot.  There is at least one fan who wears a carefully crafted one on his head.

Shine on, Black Stars!

4 thoughts on “Conscience…and Celebrations

  1. The section about “prisoner of conscience” is profound and moving… sad actually that such a fundamental like self-determination is being stifled =(

    What can we do to make things right?

    Re: the World Cup… It’s seriously very intuitive and *omg* the description of everything rocks! lol ^_^


  2. John Ralston Saul said, “The citizen’s job is to be rude – to pierce the comfort of professional intercourse by boorish expressions of doubt.” My conscience tells me to express my misgivings about the inequities of the world order. We must speak out, and join together. Together we are more numerous, and collectively, much stronger. We will, guided by heart and conscience, prevail over the powerful and selfish.


    1. Thank you very much for your wonderful words. I am trying to speak out in my blog, like the noisy bird that it is named for. I guess you could say the blog is my conscience, in a way. Please keep reading!


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