How scrupulously correct we seek to be in our interactions. How scrupulously we watch our own and other people’s behaviour. Appearance and perceptions are important. Yet, we are also prepared to let “unscrupulous” behaviour slide by in the interests of social unity and “ political correctness”. Our current norms tend to be relative (one might say ambivalent ) to the priorities dictated by perceptions of Freedom. Secular society’s great gift to the world is the feeling of liberation from the yokes of religion, morality and orthodoxy. One is free to act as one pleases so long as the majority in government feels comfortable about it.
Many psychiatrists’ couches have given relief to burdened consciences by differentiating between scruple and conscience. In associating scruples with social behaviour they neutralise the fears of damnation and consequences of sin- which would be borne by an individual conscience. Reparation is offered by way of changing habits, commonsense rational solutions and monetary compensation. Once done it is hoped there will be no lasting scars or damages. Figuratively, an eye is offered for an eye – the court allows it, justice allows it. If unresolved flash backs begin to haunt, the pain can be eased by clinical intervention. It is to be resolved, or, treated in the here and now.
But, not all rely on terra firma solutions. There are transcendental extensions for those who believe that we are more than just mind and body. To them actions and consequences must be resolved not only in the body and mind, but in the spirit too. They are intertwined influencing and directing each other. The ancients understood this and devised systems and traditions for dealing with human conditions in an ever changing and evolving universe. Social changes have been some times too strong for traditions tarnished and diminished by human misadventures and the sands of time. To those grounded in the traditions of the elders there are insights and revelations not granted to the intelligent and worldly learned. For them there is no bad conscience: it’s a gift of discernment keeping the wayfarer on the straight and narrow. Believers are able to distinguish between an earthly “scruple” and the grace of a conscience. Scruples may tell us when we are wrong, wrong, wrong, but do not offer healing or ways of redemption. Conscience indicates when we are off the track, where, why, and how to mend a relationship that may have been put to risk.