Sunday, September 23, 2018

Conscience and Orders from Above

In recent history, we have had many investigated for alleged abuse of judicial authority and dereliction of duty. Invariable the reason comes that they were just following orders. This is something endemic in society and is not only a recent phenomenon.

The many statements that have followed the court procedures show this as the main reason for the abuse of duties. In a column of the Catholic Peace Weekly, a professor brings to the attention of the readers the struggle that many have with conscience and their duties.

But there are others who act in reverse. One of them is a police officer who was the director of police in 1980 in Jeollanam-do. He objected to orders from above during the May 18 Democratic Uprising. He was dismissed from his post, arrested, tortured for disobeying orders and directing his officers to turn in weapons and providing medical treatment and food for the protestors. He passed away in 1988 from the after effects from the torture he had to endure for what they called abandonment of duties.

Are those in subordinate positions in society to obey orders unconditionally of their superiors even if they are unjust and immoral? When a person just follows orders does that make everything right?  She asks the readers if they were in that situation where the orders of the superior go against one's conscience what would they do? This is a question each one has to face.

These kinds of problems are not only faced by people working in government or industry but situations of this type are seen in our daily lives.  Obviously, we are not talking about matters of little concern or of no moral value. Conscience is the sense that tells us what is right or wrong in our actions.

It's difficult to follow one's own conscience when it is not the will of the superior—nothing is guaranteed and security is jeopardized, Many things are guaranteed and sustained if I follow the instructions from above unconditionally.

The hope is that those in leadership positions in society will not be ordering injustices and immoral behavior. We need people who will develop their consciences and do what is right even at the risk of harm coming to them. This is the way to guarantee a society that will not feel shame in what we hand on to our children.