Friday, January 18, 2013

Good Intentions

I brought this topic to the Loose Blogger Consortium eons ago.  I'm sure I had something else in mind when I brought it forth.  I'm sure that what I was intending then, was, "We all want to do well ... but with our feet of clay, we so often fall short."  And, that would not have been a bad approach, especially since it is true.

But ... time has passed since I came up with the topic and my mind and experience have both traveled through a myriad of changes, landscapes both internal and external.  And it has changed my priorities.

I no longer care as much about our feet of clay.  That is like saying that gravity is universal.  What I am more interested in, what I am developing compassion out of, is not our flaws, it is our good intent itself.

What?  But, flaws and feet of clay is a universal statement of the human condition, right?  Sure.  And good intentions most assuredly are not, right?  Ummm, not so quick.

People act badly quite often.  They kill other people.  They violate other people.  Let's admit it, they are EVIL!  How can anyone say their intentions are good?  

Idealism is how.  I will bet you that you cannot find a single person who, if you ask them at the time of an action whether it is justified or not that they will not, in their head at some level, think that it is not justified. They are doing what the situation calls for!  It just so happens that if you are sick or crazy, your actions will indeed be sick or crazy, but at the time, you will think it is the justified action in the situation.  Later, you may regret it or you may repent of your actions, BUT AT THE TIME ...

Primitive, don't you think?  We so often are.  But, coming from a primitive place, is our good intention not also a primitive thing?  At that primitive, crude moment, is not "justified" the best good we will perceive?  He violated me, it is good that I get revenge.  I was cheated, therefore it is good that I am balancing that.

No, I'm not saying a good intention is necessarily a good thing.  I'm just saying that out of the moment it may well be a universal thing.

18 comments:

  1. Correct me if I'm wrong but this version of good intentions is neither good nor bad - it is simply intentions. Are you suggesting as a primitive act intention is always good? The circular notion that evil people have good intentions in their own frame of reference is somewhat disingenuous IMHO. This strikes me as a future single-malt discussion :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dearest Fossie, I think you and Ramana are in cahoots this week, trying to confuse me. Since I am not a lover of Uisce beatha(the name for whiskey in the Irish language) I'll leave it to you boys to sort out! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  3. The one thing I can say for good intentions is that people seem to actually be trying to do something good. We rarely hear of a normal person who tries to follow their evil intentions. :) It's just that many people with good intentions don't have a very good sense of judgment.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What are your "Anonymous" reader's intentions? Good? For him or for you? Or both?

    I wonder what the LBC would have made of the subject if you had just put up "Intentions" rather than 'good intentions'. Indeed if you ask someone, in neutral as it were: "What are your intentions?" most will assure you that their intention is 'good'. Hmm. Not so sure. Often self serving. A weapon in the meddler's arsenal. See both Delirious and my comments over at Ramana's.

    I agree with your paragraph of good intention often born out of 'idealism'. Mind you, those who believe in that concept also cling to their belief in the good in people even when evidence shows us otherwise. But yes, I do take your point - what else can one do in order not to despair at times with mankind.

    'Primitive'? There you have lost me.

    U

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry, Old Foss, that should have read "Delirious and my comments over at Shackman's". Who says I am infallible (even if my intentions are good)?

      U

      Delete
  5. You have come up to the precipice but have stopped from taking the final leap into the awesomeness.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm glad you took this alternative approach instead of your original take on the topic. This is more interesting.

    You're touching on how I always interpreted that phrase - the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I later learned that it was supposed to refer to people having a good intention, but not acting on it - that thoughts were insufficient, deeds were necessary. fair enough.

    But I always saw it as meaning that well-intentioned actions, genuinely well-intentions actions, can have calamitous appalling consequences. Sincerely held beliefs can lead to genocidal behaviour - as well as loveliness.

    So where does that leave us? I think it means that "I meant well" should not necessarily be accepted as an excuse.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I understand your perspective, Consort. Still, I don't think justification is the same as good intentions. One who feels "justified" in harming another does not have "good intentions."

    Paul has a good take with his approach; "I meant well" should not be accepted as an excuse.

    Blessings to you and the family ~ Maxi



    ReplyDelete
  8. @Maxi

    You kind of understand my perspective, Maxi. My perspective is not that the justification means it is objectively good, it means that the person is, at some fundamental level, trying to work out something they see as justified and the very root of justified is that it means the act is (in their eyes) just! Just is one element of good and that is what I mean by good intentions FROM THEIR PERSPECTIVE.

    Delirious pretty much restated my view, but Paul is the only one who seems to have fully taken in what I obviously said without clarity. I worked with people on locked wards for 4 years and this was the only perspective that allowed me and my fellow workers to really work to the basic motivations of the patients. Once I knew what they saw as justification, what made their views and behaviors just to them, could I start the process of building a bridge to how the rest of the world saw it. Without that understanding, they were never reached, never touched and no other way of seeing the world had a chance of taking shape.

    ReplyDelete
  9. @blackwatertown

    We are on the same page, Paul.

    ReplyDelete
  10. @Ursula

    Answer to your question of whether for him or for you? For him, obviously. I am not saying a warped good intention is good for anyone else.

    ReplyDelete
  11. @Delirious

    Yes, they often have really lousy judgment in their efforts

    ReplyDelete
  12. @Grannymar

    Your confusion seems to not be isolated, LOL!

    ReplyDelete
  13. @shackman

    Disagree, Rocky Colavito! I am not saying that this version of good intentions is either good or bad objectively, I am saying that subjectively they are seen as justified at some level and that implies that they are just and that says they are subjectively good. Crazy and destructive people often have objectively very bad intentions, but they feel their actions are just, usually seeing themselves as victims at some level or another and justified in balancing the scales.

    ReplyDelete
  14. @shackman

    Addendum: the argument would be circular if I said the intentions objectively seen are good would make it a circular argument. The only comment I am really making is that they are subjectively seen as good, even when justice is the only good in them, and that has no bearing on whether they are good objectively. I am saying that people universally feel justified in their behavior subjectively at some level at the time of action.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am saying that people universally feel justified in their behavior subjectively at some level at the time of action.


      OK - that makes sense - topic might have been better served if called intent vs justification - I taker it as a blinding flash of the obvious that as Paul Said, intentioned actions, genuinely well-intentions actions, can have calamitous appalling consequences.

      Delete
    2. @shackman

      Ain't that the truth!!!

      Delete

If a post is older than 7 days, the comment will go for moderation. Sorry for that inconvenience, but it cuts down on spam and it is much better than Captcha. I promise to check the moderation folder regularly.