They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
I hate this phrase. I hate it so much.
I understand the sentiment:
Good intentions do not always produce good results. The law of unintended consequences often demonstrates that that despite a person or government’s most noble intent, effects that are unanticipated or unintended will often happen. Sometimes the best intentions, like in the case of leaded gasoline, can lead to disastrous result.
But what would you have done instead? Act under bad intentions, hoping the law of unintended consequences will somehow turn your bad decision into a good one?
The future is unknowable. We do our best and hope that the results are what we hope.
For this reason, I fight like hell to recognize and credit good intentions whenever possible. I prefer to judge people not upon their actions and words but on their intent.
Yes, that person said or did something that was hurtful or destructive, but was that the person's intent?
It doesn’t mean I won’t stand in opposition to what the person has said or done, but if their intentions are righteous, I don’t have to be angry with them as I do so.
This makes life a hell of a lot easier.
In many cases, I’m able to instantaneously forgive the person and move on.
That makes life life far simpler and much happier.
I know some people think this is a ridiculous way to be, and still others are dubious of the the veracity of this claim. Some - including people quite close to me - have occasionally (and not so occasionally) mocked me for this position, claiming that I’m acting with unfounded righteousness.
I disagree. I think I’m acting logically. Selfishly, in fact. A life without anger or bitterness is a better life. In recognizing and crediting good intentions even when the results are not positive, I’m taking care of myself. Removing drama from my life. Allowing time for joy and productivity and achievement. Ridding myself of pettiness and spite.
I’ve seen the opposite of my position, and I don’t like it. I’ve seen the desire to become the victim and assume the worst. I’ve watches people discard a person’s good intentions because the results were unexpected or unfortunate.
I think it’s stupid.