We know the conscience to be the “most secret core and sanctuary of a [person]. There [we are] alone with God, Whose voice echoes in [our] depths.” (Gaudium et Spes, 16)
The capacity of conscience, though, is not automatic. It needs certain things to grow. Grace, certainly, and particularly in the form of encounter with people of varied experience as well as space to reflectively integrate this encounter. Conscience thus formed leads us to a life animated by and in the service to deep love.
The silos of our world (often ideological, reinforced by social media algorithms and the pesky confirmation bias) hem in our consciences, and make the above ideal hard to experience.
Pope Francis names this as the isolated conscience, and calls out its contours in Let Us Dream.
“The indignation of the isolated conscience begins in unreality, passes through Manichaean fantasies that divide the world into good and bad (with themselves always on the good side), and ends in different kinds of violence: verbal, physical, and so on.”
Isolated conscience is no joke. And it is often subtle, leading to barricading oneself on the moral high ground and limiting one’s love.
How do I participate in the un-silo-ing of my own conscience?
How might I approach another so that they feel freed to participate in their un-silo-ing?