Most of us have done something terribly wrong to another person. We realized it at the time or afterwards. For those with an intact conscience, there was overwhelming shame and a burning, seemingly inextinguishable guilt. Perhaps there was an admission, maybe to the victim, from whom forgiveness was asked. Perhaps there was only self-confession. If the shame overwhelmed and the guilt burned deeply, there may have been a redemptive pledge not to commit the same transgression and to improve a deficient character.
No one caught in throes of such a wrenching experience would characterize his emotional state as happiness. Indeed, depending on the transgression and the emotional reaction, happiness might have seemed forever out of reach.
If a tormented conscience makes one miserable, doesn’t that suggest that a clean conscience is necessary for more salutary emotions? Conscience is often thought of as an internal control system, allowing us to…
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