when my children were young I got to see this ‘Voice Inside’ very clearly. As adults we are very skilled at hiding our inner motives, even from ourselves, but little children are transparent. I can still remember my oldest daughter when she was five years old, and she did something that she wasn’t supposed to. My wife would look at her and say. “Sarah, did you take a cookie?”
“Sarah, did you take a cookie from the cabinet?”
Silence. Then a little voice would pipe up and say, “No mommy, I didn’t.
“Sarah, now look at me, and tell me, did you take a cookie?”
Invariably Sarah would then look down, a look of embarrassment would come over her, a small smile would come across her face, and she would say, “Yes Mommy I did.”
I want you to understand, at that moment, it was very important to this little girl to be able to say that she didn’t take that cookie. She very much wanted to eat that cookie, and didn’t want the consequences of having had taken it without permission. The simple solution to that problem was to lie. Just say “No, mommy I didn’t take it”. And she desperately wanted to say just that. But she couldn’t. As much as she may have wanted to, there was a voice inside her, that said, “But you did take it. You can’t lie to Mommy.”
Children are innocent, and so that Voice Inside, speaks out clearly. It tells them what is right and what is wrong. As we get older something interesting happens. While that voice inside remains as potent as ever, we develop a counter voice that allows us to overpower that Voice Inside. When my daughter turned 9 or 10 she was able to lie. When that Voice Inside said, ‘What you are saying isn’t true’, she was now stronger and was able to say, ‘Just be quiet, I am in charge here, I know I took that cookie, but I am going to say that I didn’t.’ And at that age, when my wife would stare her down, there was no nervous sort of giggle that gave her away. She was capable of looking my wife in the eye, and saying ‘No I didn’t do it.’
Don’t get me wrong. I feel blessed to have wonderful children who are honest, and straight forward people. But there was a change. When they were young they almost didn’t have a choice, they could be so easily flushed out. As they matured, they had to make a conscious choice to be honest, because they had acquired the ability to lie. They had acquired the ability to overpower that Voice Inside. Even though that inner tension was still there, they now had the capacity to act against that voice.
We see the power of this voice in other situations. They aren’t popular now, but there was a time when criminals were given lie detector tests. If you could picture a hardened criminal, a man who spent years making his living by lying, cheating, stealing, living a life of crime– clearly a person without a conscience. He is caught with incriminating evidence, but not quite enough to make a case. So they bring him into a room, hook him up to some monitors, and begin asking him a series of questions.
‘How old are you?’ ‘What is your name?’ ‘Where were you born?’ ‘Where do you live?’ All the while a technician is noting the movement of a needle that is measuring his blood pressure. Then the questions turn.
‘Have you ever committed a crime?’
‘No’. The needle takes a sharp upswing.
‘Have you ever been arrested?’
‘No’. The needle shoots up further.
When they get to that critical question, ‘Were you on the scene of the crime on the 15th of December?’
‘No!’ The needle all but jumps off the chart.
Now let’s understand what is happening here. We have a mature individual, who is fully aware that the information found out here will be used against him in a court of law. He recognizes the consequences, and he is also quite aware that when he comes into this room, he is going to be asked certain questions. He might very well have practiced the answers for days. Yet, when he answers those questions, there is a noticeable, physiological reaction. He can lie to the court. He can lie to the District Attorney. He can even to lie to himself. But there is that Voice Inside of him that knows the truth. And when he answers what he knows to be a lie, there is an internal conflict that flares up when that voice says, ‘You know fully well that you stole that merchandise.’ Even as he is saying to himself, ‘Just deny it, keep calm and tell them the story.’ That Voice Inside says, ‘But it’s not true. I didn’t happen that way.’ He may try to squelch it but that conflict is so strong that it has a physical effect on him, an effect so noticeable that a polygraph can measure the internal conflict.
That ‘Voice Inside’ is something that we were given at birth; God created us with this inner sense of right and wrong, an inborn understanding of what is appropriate and correct to do. When we do what is right, that voice lets us know it, and we feel good about ourselves. If we do something wrong that voice lets us know that as well.
That sense is this Voice Inside, this voice that speaks to us, and tells us the right way to act. We may be tempted to go against this voice, we may wish to ignore it, but that voice is there for all humans. And intuitively, without any outside influences, our youth understand that it is wrong to steal, rape, or murder. Just like the bird, was created with an inner sense to find a worm, and the cat, with an instinct to hunt for mice, man was given a higher instinct, that of right and wrong. The only question is will he listen to it?