In my experience of being a human, I have often heard the phrase, “they have good intentions” being used to describe a nice, unselfish person. However, I will try to explain why good intentions don’t mean a goddamn thing for us Homo sapiens.
Unlike most animals (I’m not exactly a Darwinian), the concept of natural selection doesn’t exactly apply to us. Natural selection, for the purposes of my own argument, equates to the intentions of nature in working toward one goal. This goal, to survive, may be selfish but is more or less always achieved as species continue to grow and adapt to their surroundings.
It can be argued that humans have more intentions than just biological survival, such as emotional satisfaction and spiritual aspirations. This is obviously debatable and I do think it’s quite possible for humans to only care about their own survival. As such, every action performed is done in order to survive. However, there are actions that suggest otherwise, most noticeably suicide, the action of taking one’s own life. It is a direct contradiction to survival. For this reason and some others that I won’t go into, I do believe humans have greater intentions than just surviving.
The point of this spiel was to show that I believe the intentions of humans are generally unknown; it’s practically impossible to know the exact intentions of another person. It is even, to some extent, due to our subconscious, impossible to know your own intentions. For me, the only way to know the intentions of someone is to assume we are like animals and everything we do is to increase our chances of survival.
Therefore, without knowing anyone’s true intentions, I don’t think it’s possible to say they are good or bad. This is the first reason why I think “good intentions” are bogus. But even if we were able to understand the intentions of others, we run into the problem of defining “good," for what might be beneficial to someone may be detrimental to someone else. With this in mind, “good intentions” should imply that your intended actions should benefit someone else.
Alright, so let’s run with this definition that “good intentions” equals trying to help others. The key part here is trying, for intentions are different than results. And my question to you is, does it matter what someone intends if the results are different? No. If you try to help someone but turn out hurting them, you could say you had good intentions, but the net result is still negative.
You can see I have a problem with judging someone based on their intentions rather than their results. For example, there might be some people in Congress who believe the bills they’re passing are helpful to the American people. Yet, if they turn out not to help Americans, then their good intentions are all for naught.
Good can only come from results, not intentions. It also doesn’t help that we can hardly decide what our intentions are, especially when so many actions seem to contradict the well-being of others and ourselves. I don’t care what your intentions are. If you truly help others, then you are a good person.