Conscience Quotes

“The person who loses his conscience has nothing left worth keeping.” – Izaak Walton

“Often the voice of conscience whispers / Often we silence it / Always we have to pay.” – Cletus Nelson Nwadike, Nigerian poet, Left Curve (# 28) – Utne Reader, May/June 2005

“Nothing is more powerful than an individual acting out of his conscience, thus helping to bring the collective conscience to life.” ~ Norman Cousins

“Cowardice asks the question: is it safe? Expediency asks the question: is it politic? Vanity asks the question: is it popular? But conscience asks the question: is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular – but one must take it simply because it is right.” – Martin Luther King

“Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterwards… The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. It is truly enough said that a corporation has no conscience.” – Henry David Thoreau in “Resistance to Civil Government” (as quoted in Blessed Unrest, page 77).

“It’s funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox, full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools – friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty – and said, ‘Do the best you can do with these, they will have to do.’ And mostly, against all odds, they’re enough.” – From Traveling Mercies – Some Thoughts on Faith, by Anne Lamott

“A clear conscience is more valuable than wealth.” – Filipino proverb

7 root causes or “blunders” which lead to violence, passed along by Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi:

  • wealth without work
  • pleasure without conscience
  • education without character
  • commerce without morality
  • science without humanity
  • worship without sacrifice
  • politics without principle

“This, then, was what had come of her poor compromise, her attempt to do right, to separate the conflicting dictates of head and heart, to assuage conscience, which was, as Mark Twain had shrewdly observed, “no better than an old yeller dog.” For fairness and loyalty, however important to the head, were issues that could seldom be squared in the human heart, at the deepest depths of which lay the mystery of affection, of love, which you either felt or you didn’t, pure as instinct, which seized you, not the other way around, making a mockery of words like “should” and “ought.” The human heart, where compromise could not be struck, not ever. Where transgressions exacted a terrible price. Where tangled black limbs fell. Where the boom got lowered.” – from Nobody’s Fool, by Richard Russo

“Every man’s island, Jean Louise, every man’s watchman, is his conscience.” – from the novel Go Set A Watchman, by Harper Lee

"Never do anything against conscience, even when the state demands it." – Albert Einstein ** more Einstein quotes

“We can remain in denial about the ecocide we are all witness to, as the cult of optimism would have us do, or we can acknowledge and embrace the sorrow that is a natural response to loss, devastation and catastrophe. In grief we make a choice to honor the lost and their existence. We speak in a clear voice, to anyone who will listen, that their lives mattered. And we are also forced to face our own mortality in the process.

Agreeing to walk through our grief honestly can be a catalyst for creative defiance and undaunted dissent. It is perhaps the only resistance we can offer to the insistence of apathy imposed on us from the wraiths on Wall Street and Madison Avenue. The unnatural barriers they have erected to mask our humanity crumble in the rancid pile they deserve when a soul is set free to grieve. It is in grief that we find ourselves to be inseparable from each other, and from the nature from which we are all born. In this way, sorrow is the only coherent answer to extinction. It is a wail of conscience.

Bearing witness to the unprecedented crime of ecocide sweeping our planet is not accepting the carnage, it is lending another voice to testify on the behalf of the victims. And in doing so, it succeeds in making the difficult case for the worth of the human soul.” – from a 2014 Kenn Orphan blog posting called 'Bearing Witness.'