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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Final Election 2012 Post (I think!)

Ok, this may not be the last, but it is the last one I am planning on.  On Sunday, I made a decision about who I am voting for.  In this post, I am going to explore that decision as well as an issue that has been sort of talked about in my previous posts, but I want to talk about more clearly.

The issue I want to discuss prior to revealing my decision and its reasons is the idea of the supremacy of conscience.  In the Catechism Part III, Section 1, Chapter 1, Article 6 (http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s1c1a6.htm) the Church talks about the conscience.  What is a conscience?  The conscience is a part of every human being and tells us if we are doing right or wrong.  It is the "judgment of reason which at the appropriate moment enjoins [a person] to do good and to avoid evil." (Paragraph 1778)  In Paragraph 1782, the Catechism says "Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. 'He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.'"

In other words, the conscience is the supreme arbiter of what you should or should not do.  However, it should also be noted that just because you follows your conscience it does not mean that you are allowed to do whatever you want.  A conscience can be misformed or badly informed and therefore lead you astray.  In paragraphs 1783-1785, the Catechism says:

                     Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A
                     well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its
                     judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good
                     willed by the wisdom of the Creator. The education of conscience
                     is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative
                     influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to
                     reject authoritative teachings.

                     The education of the conscience is a lifelong task. From the earliest
                     years, it awakens the child to the knowledge and practice of the
                     interior law recognized by conscience. Prudent education teaches
                     virtue; it prevents or cures fear, selfishness and pride, resentment
                     arising from guilt, and feelings of complacency, born of human
                     weakness and faults. The education of the conscience guarantees
                     freedom and engenders peace of heart.

                     In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our
                     path, we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice.
                     We must also examine our conscience before the Lord's Cross. We
                     are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or
                     advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the
                     Church.

Thus, we see that it is our obligation thoroughout our lives to form our consciences properly so that they can lead us in the proper path.  This idea of the supremacy of conscience is actually a widespread idea that exhibits itself in a variety of circumstances.  Conscientious objectors, civil disobedience, and prisoners of conscience are all examples at how pervasive this idea is.  You can also look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscience for how some other religions or philosophies look at conscience.

So how did this affect my vote?  If you have read my prior posts, you know that I have wrestled with various issues (most notably abortion) and how they affect how I look at the different candidates.  After weeks of wrestling with myself, I made a decision that I could not; in good conscience; vote of any of the candidates I talked about.  All of them have beliefs which violate my conscience and my deeply held beliefs in some way, shape, or form.

Therefore, I decided to vote for Santa Claus.  And yes, Santa Claus is actually an official write-in candidate for Maryland (see http://elections.state.md.us/elections/2012/general_candidates/gen_listings_2012_4_001-.html about halfway down!).  The rest of the ballot I had filled in previously.

So that is the end of Matt's 2012 election meltdown.  Well, until Election Day itself when I am a chief judge.  But that is a whole different story....