'I didn't mean it!' 'It's not whats I meant to happen.' 'It's not like I did it on purpose.'
How does that old cliché go? Oh yeh, The road to hell is paved in good intentions. Irrespective of your theological perspective to the existence of Hell, what we are really saying here is that 'good intentions' don't really matter much in the scheme of things, if the Impact is off.
When was the last time you uttered one of those phrases? Have you ever considered your intentions as irrelevant when compared to the impact you have had?
Not a very comfortable topic is it? Its one which I have wrangled with a lot in my time and forecast that I will still be wrangling with it, probably right up until the last page of my life is written and the book is closed for good.
'Have I lived a good Life?'
It's one of those deep introspective concerns that stereotyping would have us believe comes up when a person feels the approach of that grim scythe carrying entity. Really though its a person showing concern for the impact they have had on the world and those around them. So why wait for ol' boney butt? Why not ask ourselves this question on a daily basis?
Could it be the fact that it is uncomfortable for us? Is it the fact that its potentially anxiety inducing? Might it be possible that on some level we cling to our 'intentions' as a justification of our existence and validity as a functioning member of society?
Maybe its none of the above, or maybe its all of the above.
A pretty extreme fictional example might help some brain play at this point.
There is a road traffic collision and a pedestrian is hit and killed. What's the difference between a verdict of murder and man slaughter against the driver? Sure there are lot of other words and considerations but there is one that it all hinges on, intent. The thing is, from the victims perspective the intent not as important as the impact now is it?
What if we made our fictional scenario less extreme?
You hear a sexist/racist/ablest joke and the group all laugh so you join in. Then you see the one person in the group not laughing. Of course it wasn't your intent to hurt the person, but does that really negate or diminish the impact?
'Sure its only a joke. Have you no sense of humour?'
I have the good fortune of being in good physical condition, I am also white, cis male, and hetronormative. There aren't a lot of jokes targeting my demographic now are there? So when you're not the butt of the joke, when you're the voice that gets attention, or when you're the one who things are set up to serve, how easy is it to do that uncomfortable introspective stuff I mentioned earlier?
Now don't get me wrong, intent can be a very powerful and enabling thing. They say energy follows thoughts after all. If you see me in real life, You may notice I wear a lot of hero tshirts. Superman or Captain America. (Ask me about my views on paragons some time, there is a blog post in that I'm sure.) What I would share with you is that I put them on with intent. Not the intent to show others my preference or allegiances or how much of a nerd I am ( a pretty big nerd lets be honest). My intent is to remind myself to be a hero, in whatever way I can. I'm not jumping in front of trains or leaping tall builds here, but I can lift someone up who has fallen. I can offer a smile and a kind word. I can do my best to be a safe calm presence for those who need that. I can challenge a poor excuse for humour and offer a different perspective.
I try really hard to be aware of my impact. I work to challenge my perspective so that I consider impact as more relevant than my intent. I accept and own the responsibility for my impact, no matter what I intended. Does that mean I'm living a good life? I have no idea.
In my recent years I work exploring what we know of the Dagda and the more I find out the more I question. When you have the literal power of Life and death in your hand, When you can command the sun to stop, the oceans to recede and more, which do you think becomes more important? The Intent with which you wield these abilities? Or the Impact that they have? Maybe the truth of it all is somewhere in the balance, as with all things.
I don't have answers here. I'm not selling a solution or advocating an answer. What I am doing is questioning. Maybe if more of the right questions were considered, we would have a better world.
If you enjoyed this along with my other work, and would consider buying me a coffee or a pint for the purposes of a chat, maybe pop over to the Patreon.com/Dagda
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We all have thoughts and perspectives and opinions. Its simply part of the human condition as a socialized species. So In the interest of insight, this is where I will share my perspective and opinions.