A New Definition of Law – The Law of Conscience
At eighteen years old, the majority of people are still trying to discover who they are and where they want the path of life to take them. When Mother Teresa was eighteen years old, she knew exactly what she wanted to pursue. She made the decision to become a Catholic nun so she could further connect with God. Her morals and ideals of what is of eternal importance were all influenced by her dedication to the religion. She gave the gift of love to all she encountered, and healed the poor with not just mere medicine, but the power of love, care, and dignity. Her deeply successful and inspiring work associates her name with kindness and selflessness today, and she was awarded for her determination with a Nobel Peace Prize.
Mother Teresa, an incredible woman, is the perfect example of someone who went out of her own way to follow “eternal law” and her personal morals to selflessly serve the less fortunate, even though she was strongly disliked and criticized by many who disagreed with her actions and beliefs. The historical context of the time period that one lives in is essential to understanding the morals and justices that a particular individual believes. Historical issues or wrongful events tend to be what people are fighting to correct. Mother Teresa, who lived from 1910 to 1997, focused her energy on working with the poor and giving those who were unloved care, support, and dignity. Mother Teresa worked tirelessly to help people suffering from great catastrophes in India. One such devastating historical event was The Great Bengal Famine, which lasted from 1942-1943.
This tragic historical time period occurred in the Bengal province of India, and about three million people died due to starvation. Also, in 1946, the “Great Calcutta Killing” massacre occurred, causing roughly 10,000 victims to die, and left even more wounded. These overwhelmingly disastrous circumstances left many injured and abandoned. In response, Mother Teresa received permission to leave the Sisters of Loretto, the religious group she was a part of, and move to Calcutta, India with no money or food and live alongside the extremely poor, in an attempt to provide them with help and comfort. She selflessly abandoned everything she knew in order to pursue God’s calling for her to help the poor. According to “Biography Online,” “In 1952, she opened her first home for the dying, which allowed people to die with dignity.
Mother Teresa often spent time with those who were dying”. Mother Teresa understood that giving meaning to a person’s life, and giving them the benefaction of peace and kindness, is the greatest gift anyone can give. In general, Mother Teresa was deeply affected by the widespread poverty in India. As Mother Teresa said herself, “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread”. Due to her passion in regards to helping the less fortunate, she founded what came to be known as “The Missionaries of Charity,” which cared for those that no one else would.
Overall, Mother Teresa’s entire life was influenced by her strong Catholic beliefs and faith in God, and her charitable personality and loving character did so much for those in need, and her actions are cherished and held hand in hand with godliness to this day. Mother Teresa was passionate about many issues that she believed to be unjust, as well as problems she wanted to correct. Her strong religious beliefs inspired her to accomplish manyaspects of benevolent work, however, some of these beliefs caused her to be strongly criticized. As a Catholic nun, she was very against the idea of abortion and divorce, and also made great attempts to baptize those who were already dying. She believed that God was surrounded by the poor, which influenced her deep passion. Those who strongly disagreed with her actions, particularly the Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist people were afraid that she would venture to convert people to her own religion of Christianity.
Although Mother Teresa’s Catholic background provided her with a strong stance on issues such as abortion, her goal in life was never to convert people to Christianity. Even though some of these concerns brought criticism to Mother Teresa, they never altered her beliefs and she stood strong, knowing in her heart what she believed was “right,” and “just.” Specifically, Mother Teresa was concerned with spreading God’s love and giving the poor and dying dignity. One particular controversial issue she involved herself in was the baptism and deep care for the dying. She cared more for giving dying people love and care than advanced medical application.
However, care and the feeling of worthiness are arguably the most important remedy one can be given. It is important to understand that giving those who were on the verge of death relentless care and support was a controversial issue. Many believed that it was a waste of resources to try and revive a life that could not be saved. Mother Teresa believed differently. This is where the law of conscience comes to light. What is of utter importance in the end depends on personal morals.
However, is it right to turn away the dying simply because it would be challenging to save them? Does that make them inhumane and needless of care? When is human justice forgotten in the midst of brutal fact? “The Hindu” provided an anecdote about Mother Teresa that proves her uncompromising loyalty to the poor, even those who were dying, and even those that hospitals turned away; “Finding a man dying in the street, she [Mother Teresa] took him to a public hospital, which refused to admit him, precisely on the grounds that since he was about to die, they would not waste a hospital bed on a life they said they could not save!It was only when she sat before the hospital in a dharna that they relented. The man died a few hours later.” (‘The Mother Teresa her critics choose to ignore’). Mother Teresa raised awareness about the issue of poverty in India by founding the Missionaries of Charity, which, according to “EBSCO Discovery,” “The Missionaries of Charity was the only religious order of its time that actually grew in membership. By 1987, the group numbered three thousand sisters and four hundred brothers. These selfless people have treated tens of thousands of destitute sick and given the hopelessly dying the opportunity to die with dignity” (‘Mother Teresa’).
This foundation was clearly very successful and helped many. She got her message across and inspired others by stating her beliefs and giving justified reasoning behind them. For instance, an inspiring quote that she said was, “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty”. To me, this quote shows true significance in the essence of conscience versus an accepted understanding.
The way we relate one thing to the other subconsciously may certainly be different than what is actually “good.” By taking a stand on justice using personal morals such as in this statement, Mother Teresa inspired many. What I find even more unbelievably courageous is how Mother Teresa never used violence as a means of getting her point across. She was a peaceful woman, and did not do what she did for the poor and the unloved in an attempt to gain fame. She performed her work out of care from her own heart, and was rewarded later with a Nobel Peace Prize.
Her peace was just as successful in inciting others to help the ones who need help the most, if not more successful. She ultimately used the law of conscience to inspire others to act in a similar manner. The law of conscience is a law that does not exist in writing. It cannot be seen word for word in cold hard stone, for it changes from person to person. Certainly we need basic rules that maintain peace and righteousness, however, the human being needs morality to keep further improving their society.
The law of conscience shapes our world because it gives the freedom of opinion and belief in every individual. If we do not have difference, or a drive to further improve our society, than how can we exceed expectations? How can we form a society of justice and allow us to accomplish goals? In the end, it is the law of conscience that is what brings upon change, not the basic laws that can be written down. I certainly believe that the claim that Mother Teresa did what was right and just is true. She stood up to her criticizers and argued that the true poor people are those who lack love. Although there was no specific “ruling power” that she challenged, the Hindu response to poverty was different than her personal beliefs or conscience, and she confronted them about this issue by taking a stand for justice.
The reasons that Mother Teresa gave to justify her actions of using medical resources on everyone, including the dying, and helping the poor in general, are perfectly valid. She was deeply influenced by her religious foundation, and such reasoning she gave to justify her actions was stating how God was more evident in the poor, and surrounded the ones who needed help. She used persuasive reasoning by means of humanism to express that everyone deserves to die with dignity and self respect, and that denying this to a human being is not just or fair in any sense. This reason, I believe, is “good” because it reflects that every human should be treated with equal rights and respect, no matter their condition, and that everlasting kindness will go a long way in a society. All in all, my final evaluation is that an existence of a reality of “the law of conscience” is a justified statement.
It is real in the way that there are eternal laws of what is right and what is wrong that cannot be written down. This law has to do with me because I need to be educated enough to know what is right and what is wrong, and I use this law subconsciously every day. Such laws are not the rule, but the exception. They separate human from the animal, and give us a chance to know and understand, personally and morally, which law is to be followed for a particular scenario: the law of “nomos” or the law of “logos”? Following the law of conscience may be disobeying the state law; however, when it comes down to it, there is one law that is “just” or “unjust,” and there is one law that is “good” or “wrong.” It is up to each and every one of us individually to decide what is of highest importance and on the side of justice.
Mother Teresa, although criticized and disagreed with, provided the world with a whole new meaning for kindness and selflessness. She stood up for her powerful beliefs in a peaceful manner and continues to be considered one of the most inspiring and kind hearted souls that have walked this Earth. However, she never would have been able to accomplish all that she did without the law of conscience. For it was Mother Teresa, and all the others who followed “eternal law,” that have changed the idea of defined rules, and, together, have created a whole new meaning of right and wrong. They have created a new definition of law.