• author
    • Donald Sanders

      Columnist
    • October 20, 2015 in Columnists

    My conscience was talking… why didn’t I listen?

    In my younger days I spent some time in the suicide ward at David Grant Hospital located on Travis Air Force Base. Actually, I had several visits to the same ward. I can’t say that it did me any good to be there, but I’m still alive and that’s a good thing I guess.

    Anyway, while I was there, I had a visit with a psychiatrist, which is customary I guess. I think they needed to know who I was and why I was in the suicide ward, so the doctor started asking me questions that no ordinary man would have the answers to. This is how it went:

    Doctor: “How are you Mr. Sanders?”
    Me: “Just dandy.”
    Doctor: (After about 10 questions) “Have you been hearing voices?”
    Me: “Yeah, all the time… I can hear my conscience.”
    Doctor: “What does it tell you to do?”
    Me: “Well right now it’s telling me I shouldn’t have told you about it.”
    Me: “That was a joke, Doc.”
    Doctor: “Ha!”
    Me: “Yeah, it tells me what is right and wrong. It’s a sense that governs somebody’s thoughts and actions, urging me or you to do right rather than wrong.”
    Doctor: “Ha!”

    Studies tell us that between 4 and 10 percent of the world’s population claims to hear voices or auditory hallucinations as psychiatrists call them. Voices can be experienced in the head, in the ears, outside the head, in some other part of the body or in the environment. Voices often reflect important aspects of the hearer’s emotional state – emotions that are often unexpressed by the hearer.

    Sometimes my voices tell me something and I don’t listen.

    “Don’t do that it says!”

    I do it anyway.

    Then it says, “Now look what you have done, you dumbshit!” A good 55 percent of the time, I’ll think to myself, “Oh man, why didn’t I listen to my conscience?” The rest of the time I just ignore it and try not to think about it.

    Well, as it turns out, many famous people heard voices. It’s a long list but it includes Socrates, Mozart, Beethoven, Gandhi, Alexander the Great, Caesar and Jesus. The list goes on and on. They may have heard one voice or many. Some people reported hearing hundreds, although in almost all reported cases, one voice dominates above the others.

    When I hear the voice inside my head, I consider it a gift from God, a gift that guides me in the right direction. It always has. Now that I’m older, things have changed a bit. Now I do what the voices in my wife’s head tells me. She is a gift from God as well.

    It is the people that don’t hear voices that I worry about. I also worry about people that have voices telling them to do evil things. Things like mass murder and physical attacks on the innocent; evil things that we have experienced and lived with all of our lives if you think about it. Evil that seems to increase in frequency and is reported on the news every day.

    Reason makes mistakes, but conscience never does, or so they say. I personally have made mistakes as well, but I can honestly say that I have never purposely done anything I would consider an evil deed. As I look back in time, I have but one question that troubles me when I don’t know the answer.

    My question is, “When a soldier kills someone in a war, will the dead men’s families consider it an evil deed?” My voice tells me that it is highly likely and I’m thinking to myself, “Why didn’t I listen to my conscience?”



    • Loved this.


      • Maya Spier Stiles North

      • October 21, 2015 at 8:24 pm
      • Reply

      My uncle was 2 seconds away from being killed in World War 2. The veritable child of a German soldier had him in his sights, finger quivering on the trigger, about to pull, when someone took him down first. My young, young uncle probably nearly soiled himself, although he wouldn’t admit it. Had that gun been fired, I would have grieved all my days for the man I wouldn’t have known, would have wondered who my father’s brother would have become. But that young soldier? He wasn’t evil. It was just war. WAR is evil but I don’t and have never seen soldiers in general as such, although there are some violence junkies who are an exception to that. It was war, love. It’s a good thing for it to mean so much, but please, please forgive yourself. Lay the blame where it truly belongs — on the government that sent you for its own corrupt reasons. And let your conscience spur you to making your corner of the world a better place. There’s not much better in life than that except for grandchildren. Big hugs…


      • Ken Welton

      • October 22, 2015 at 11:05 am
      • Reply

      “Now I do what the voices in my wife’s head tells me. She is a gift from God as well.”
      LOVE this Donald! I know where you are coming from.



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