We soon discover, though, that our choices have consequences. True, our lives are our projects; we can make of them what we will. We find, however, that not only are we free to mold our lives by our choices, but also that we must mold them well if we’re to be happy and fulfilled. It seems obvious to us, if a little frightening, that our choices constitute us as persons. By freely choosing what is good or what is evil (though it always seems so
good at the time), we freely become good or evil. How do we choose? How can we tell the good from the evil? In facing these questions we experience our capacity to judge, as well as an insistent urge to obey those judgments. We experience, in other words, our conscience.
Conscience is what lives at the crossroads where the questing, restless human intellect meets the free and hungry human will. We experience it as something of a mystery: it’s clearly part of us, yet seems curiously distinct; its judgments are our own judgments and yet we find that we must obey them. Conscience isn’t so much a scold (though it can be fearsome when crossed) as it is a demanding mentor. It’s the interior voice that requires the best of us, insisting that we seek what’s true and choose what’s good in the concrete circumstances of life.
Excerpted from The Right to Be Wrong by Kevin Seamus Hasson. Copyright © 2012 by Kevin Seamus Hasson. Excerpted by permission of Image, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.