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Intents and Purposes


Most of those who know me are well aware that I am a dog lover. Now, that doesn’t automatically make me a cat hater – I grew up with cats in the house and have felt a good deal of affection towards some of them (RIP Boxbelly) more than others.

Cats are the epitome of grace and balance, but even they occasionally slip up. One of the things I love about cats (and most cat owners will agree I’m sure) is that when a cat has that odd moment of clumsiness  they will quickly right themselves, look around to see if they were observed and seeing that they were, adopt that ultimate smug feline attitude of “I meant to do that.”

Humans are far more complex in our intentions than cats are. We often do things without thinking of the consequences of our actions, and then sit back and watch the carnage. Generally, when a cat messes up, there’s just a momentary flash of cat-embarrassment but when a human screws the pooch, the ramifications can range from negligible to catastrophic.

Our society has, in its zeal to become more business-centric, become less forgiving of intent. For the most part, we’re all about the bottom line baby and if we see some disaster, we look scrupulously for the cause of it. In effect, we’ve become less about solving the root problem and more about pointing fingers. This is especially true in politics as well as in business. It’s all about the fall guy. I wonder if this hasn’t made this a colder, meaner civilization than it needs to be.

Take former President Bush, for example – the most recent one. Generally speaking, he is the most reviled politician of our time. His presidency will more than likely be regarded as a failure, given the war in Iraq and the economic meltdown that followed. I’ve seen plenty of bloggers and pundits call for criminal and civil charges to be brought up against the former chief executive.

Now, I’m not the biggest fan of Bush’s policies you’ll find on the net. From a bottom line perspective, the general population of the country is much worse off now than they were in 2000. However, while it is easy to say “bottom line, the guy screwed up,” one has to wonder if Bush’s intentions were to make life miserable for most Americans, or if he honestly felt he was making things better for us.

I think it’s safe to say that most people assume that Bush’s intentions were to make life better for the very rich, particularly those in the petroleum industry and that may very well be correct. Certainly the signs point in that direction. However, it is also safe to say that most people have never met the president personally. I certainly have not. Therefore, I can’t say with any certainty if he truly wanted the results he achieved vis a vis the economy. For that reason, I elect to give him the benefit of the doubt.

This may not be the most popular of standpoints. After all, it’s hip to hate Bush (no cracks here, wise guys) so why not join the bandwagon. My sister is going to give me a lot of grief for this, and while I’m certainly not about shirking accountability and ownership of one’s deeds (or misdeeds), I just can’t bring myself to hate the man. I really can’t bring myself to hate anybody, but even George W. Bush doesn’t get the big “H” from me. I know people who were personally affected in a negative way by his policies – some very close friends, in fact. People I care about are suffering because of his failures in office. Still, I can’t hate the man.

Hate is a wasted emotion. It saps the energy of the hater, stresses their systems. Most of the time, the people we hate either don’t know or don’t care that we hate them. There are the rare few that actually want us to hate them, but those are generally people we have wronged romantically who want to remain important in our lives, so if they can’t get us to love them, they settle for having us hate them.

To me hate is just a waste of time. If you deliberately want to hurt me, then I really don’t want you to have any importance in my life. Hating someone who deliberately hurts me then becomes irrelevant, because the person who harmed me is irrelevant. I’m no longer going to have anything to do with them. Hating someone who accidentally hurt me is also just as wasteful; after all, they didn’t mean to hurt me, and everyone makes mistakes. I’ve certainly caused my share of pain without meaning to.

So we get back to intentions again. What was the reason for our actions, and how did it affect the outcome. Catholics are big on intent; the truism “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” is extremely un-Catholic. Perhaps I’m a bit tied to that upbringing, but I believe it’s important. Why you do things is at least important as to what you do as when or where is. Doing things for the “right reasons” can sometimes take the sting out of the “wrong thing.” Some of the sting, at least.

So, once again I’ve gotten a bit windy on a relatively simple subject but I guess that’s to be expected. It’s my nature to expound and pontificate. Still, we went full circle to where we started this time at least. And yes, I meant to do that.

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One Response

  1. Hey, I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog!…..I”ll be checking in on a regularly now….Keep up the good work! 🙂

    – Marc Shaw

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