Monday 2 October 2017


The Danger of Good Intentions reads like an Oscar Wildean play. It has been said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Good intentions appear to be one of those things which give us the right to say that the end justifies the means. 

Take a look at a scenario where meddling friends set up a girl on a blind date with a rapist. Chaos ensues. The well-meaning friends can only say "We just wanted you to go out more" and "We are so sorry" but evidently what's done is done. But what if the blind date hadn't been a rapist? What if he was Mr. Perfect? What if he was Mr. Right who didn't need to be dragged from the left? These are the rationales behind many a good intention. 

The desire to please people dear to us (and those who aren't sometimes) propels us to make decisions for them on their behalf.  We love them (or we think we do) and we think that our good intentions are reason enough to make our decisions for them. Note the use of our, not their because these decisions are essentially what WE would do in their position and not what THEY would do.  We see people who are in an unfortunate condition - in our opinion - and we take steps to assist them. Whether or not they care about our help or opinion don't really factor into our decision making. 

You see the desire based on good intentions could end up being a slippery slope. Once the idea is hatched, it gains full rein and we are dragged along with our good intentions off the cliff end. Good intentions aren't bad things. What parent wouldn't want the best for their children? What friend wouldn't  want the other to make the most of their lives?  

The key to making good intentions count is taking out time to discover the mechanics behind them. Let's ask ourselves whys and whats. Why do I think this is a good decision for this person? Is it enough that I am older or more mature? Is my intention to help good enough? What do I think I can do to prove to this person that this is the right thing to do? If he/she doesn't agree should I go ahead and do it anyway? 

The answers to these questions will provide a guide as to whether our good intentions count enough to take matters into our hands. Like Albert Camus, "The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding." 

The funny thing is sometimes you win some and sometimes you lose some and like it is with a gambler  the high of winning gets us hooked to trying once again. But do we really need to make decisions for others?  Many times our desire to live the lives of others for them or live our lives vicariously through theirs spurs us.  We really should examine our motives thoroughly. 

So the danger of good intentions is revealed in their perpetration. Vikram Seth puts it well, "God save us from people who mean us well". 

***Favour Borokini***

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