Conscience and Convenience

Posted by

By Ross Orwin

It was a simple act of throwing a used light bulb into the dustbin that got me thinking. Why did I not put it aside to take to a place that offers a more appropriate disposal method?

The place that I am referring to is one of our local grocery stores, so nothing hugely out of the way. I knew throwing it into the bin was not the best way of disposing of it, and that I was throwing recyclable material into a standard dustbin. But it is so much easier. And it was only this time, although I think I may have said that last time too.

My conscience was at war with convenience. And the more I thought about it, the more I started to get an uneasy feeling about how we might be going about our lives these days. The effort to do what our conscience says is the right thing to do, versus the seduction of convenience as it offers us the easy option.

It would be convenient to forget these very thoughts I have been having, but conscience keeps bringing them back. Damn. So how do we live, love and lead? From conscience or convenience?

We have this choice many times a day, in our many roles in life. As friends, sons and daughters, siblings, parents and partners. As leaders, followers, employers and employees. As politicians and religious figures. Everywhere, every day, we are confronted by a decision to act from convenience or conscience.

It is way more convenient to give our kids the tablet or relent to their moaning for more TV, rather than making the effort to spend quality time with them. It is a lot more convenient to walk past the dirty laundry than pick it up and put it in the wash basket. Oh, the temptation to turn a blind eye to the dishwasher that needs unpacking.

It is more convenient to avoid a tough conversation than have it. And it is more convenient to ‘just do the job myself’ than take the time and effort to coach someone into it.

It is convenient to let someone else care for the poor, yet equally comfortable for us to moan about the poor.

Is it also convenient to leave a relationship or even a country when our quiet conscience suggests otherwise?

So much convenience drowning out the voice of conscience. The more convenient the path of avoidance, the quieter the conscience.

I don’t have the answer to this. And there are times when what appears to be the convenient thing to do is possibly also the right thing to do. But, I do get the sense that we may have exchanged conscience for convenience, and I don’t think that is a fair trade. Time to retrieve that light bulb.


  1. Great read thanks here is a quote by Iain Mc Gilchrist on attention very relevant.
    “Attention is not just another ‘function’ alongside other cognitive functions”. Rather, the kind of attention we bring to bear on the world actually alters the nature of the world we attend to: “Attention changes what kind of a thing comes into being for us: in that way it changes the world” Iain Mc Gilchrist


  2. Good catch Marc… This is a slippery slope to numbness and lost progress. Worth fighting these little battles all day long for sure. But it is more convenient for me to not notice them..
    Thank you for the prod.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s