May 25, 2015

By one of those wonderful coincidences that make life so interesting, the book CONSCIENCE arrived in my mailbox today--Memorial Day--the day we set aside to commemorate and honor those who fought in the wars our country has waged over the years. (It's also a legal holiday and there was no mail delivery--except for this book.)

Written by Louisa Thomas, the book explores her great-grandfather's life and the beliefs that impacted his decisions over the years. Norman Thomas and his three brothers were raised in a religious home, but they each followed a path formed by his own conscience. At the beginning of World War I, Norman was a Presbyterian minister, but by the end of that terrible war, he had become a pacifist. One of his brothers was sentenced to prison for life because he was a conscientious objector. The other two brothers joined the military and served in that "war to end all wars."

Norman Thomas' book,THE CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR IN AMERICA, begins with this dedication:
"To the brave who went for conscience' sake to trench or prison." Although the four Thomas brothers often disagreed, they apparently came to respect one another's choices.

I've just begun reading CONSCIENCE, but already I feel a connection. the family in my book CALLAHAN CROSSROADS is divided over the right way to respond to Woodrow Wilson's call to serve in the war. The twelve-year-old narrator George begins to realize that things are not always black and white and that each person has to make an individual choice, according to what he or she thinks and believes.

I'm glad Louisa Thomas' book arrived on Memorial Day. Just the first few pages offer insights into conscience--how it's formed, how it changes and how it impacts our lives. It promises to be a thoughtful read.