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Wendy's Blog

Acting on Conscience

       posted on Monday 13 Nov, 2006.

“Acting on Conscience – - How Can We Responsibly Mix Law, Religion and Politics?” by Frank Brennan

Well may you ask!

A review of this book by Roy Williams in the Weekend Australian “Review”, November 4-5 2006, explores Frank’s thesis that conscience voting – where MPs can vote on their most strongly held beliefs – occurs too rarely in public affairs.

Roy goes on to summarise Frank: “The way to a more civil and truthful democracy, he argues, is to afford greater respect to the primacy of individual conscience.”

Roy takes us through Frank’s views on religion – “Frank would like greater tolerance of religious discourse … where people of faith speak out boldly but respectfully on pressing issues.”

And “judges with strong religious beliefs must sometimes walk the fine line.”

Although Roy does not agree with all Frank’s contentions, he concludes by stating that Frank would endorse John F Kennedy’s words in “Profiles of Courage”:

“[When] party and officeholder differ as to how the national interest is to be served, we must place first the responsibility we owe not to our party or even to our consitituents but to our individual consciences.”

Putting this in the context of Corporate Social Responsibility, which is the responsibility of an organisation to all stakeholders, we see that the consciences of all these people can play a great part in the organisations’ governance and future direction, if only they were given a say. From those who come in to clean when everyone else is gone, to those who only participate from the boardroom, there are valid views and wisdom on the best way forward for the organsisation.

Wouldn’t it be good to give respect to all these consciences, giving them the opportunity to “speak out boldly but respectfully on pressing issues”? And to take them into account when making decisions?

What a wonderful asset to any organisation!


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