A Broad Perspective on Mental Healing

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xi                      A SYNTHETIC PHILOSOPHY OF LIVING                  421
that the instinctive urges need control and regulation may have contributed to the development of the doctrine of original sin, but the instincts themselves are neither good nor evil. The doctrine itself is more than likely a reification of our own anxieties, due, perhaps, to insufficient self-control. Incidentally this doctrine receives no support from the teaching of Jesus.
Consequently the problem of the wholesome life is not soluble by mere negations and prohibitions aimed at the suppression of the instinctive urges, but by their right control, that is, by directing desires towards ethically valuable ends and the building-up of a system of sentiments through which energy can find morally acceptable release.
Control is exercised by reason and conscience from within and by various forms of social pressure from without. These are frequently in conflict among themselves. The voice of reason and conscience, heard by prophets and pioneers, is often drowned by the thunders of social authority. History is full of the tragic misunderstandings between the reformer and the guardians of social stability and tradition who reject or persecute him. The prophets are slain and subsequent generations build their memorials. The demand of the individual conscience for the redressing of wrongs and the realization of new social values seems to be in almost necessary conflict from time to time with the inherited conventions of society, if moral and cultural progress is to be made.
Conscience, too, is always fallible : and before we obey our conscience we must make sure that it is not merely a rationalization of our own selfish wishes. People will do the most horrible things with a sincere belief that their actions are necessary and right. Thus, the men who burnt St. Joan of Arc were not unscrupulous and cynical scoundrels. The greatness of Shaw's play,