Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Good Intentions

"Hell isn't merely paved with good intentions; it's walled and roofed with them..."
- Aldous Huxley, Time Must Have a Stop

It is an underlying theme in The Haven, the outcome of good intentions. One of my students recently brought in an essay, and with reference to Emerson, made the argument that persons should be judged by their intentions, not their actions. Awful sentiment.

My main point is this: good intentions coupled with fear can lead to disasterous errors in judgement. Further, for some the intentions, or the desired ends justify unethical means, which is a recipe for terrorism and tyranny. No one wants to believe that their intentions are bad, particularly if it includes a plan to affect social change. On the other hand, citing good intentions can provide a respectable front for the pursuit of power (e.g. Five Year Plan, Junior Senator Joseph McCarthy etc etc.).

I hate getting abstract like this, which is probably why I wrote a story. What happens in government when the ideal has priority over the people?


Alfred J Nag said...

You ask, "What happens in government when the ideal has priority over the people?"

We're living it. I wouldn't give the current administration the benefit of calling their motivations "ideals," but you can be sure that they view things in such a light.

Remember, villains are the heroes of their own stories.

Once you embark upon the path of "the ends justify the means," then you run into things like torture, murder, etc. Elimination of conscience makes all things not only possible, but necessary, and therefore desirable.

This is an unspoken truth in most religions. A person can achieve paradise by doing "God's" work. As a devout atheist, I find it abhorring, but human beings somehow become bestowed with "God's" will, and they act upon their supposed knowledge.

The end, or perceived end, justifies the means.

I have often wondered if the guys who flew those planes into the twin towers had a brief moment of conscience, where they wanted to veer away at the last minute. I think not. I think that their brains, through conditioning, probably told them that they were approaching “heaven.” The closer they got to the towers, the more ecstatic they probably became.

That was their perception. That was their reality.

We are indeed living in unusual times. In these times, our government chooses “ideals/faith-based bullshit” over science. It’s notable that the leader of our country would tout “intelligent design” as a legitimate course of study.

Evolution is fact, and not a matter of “belief.” However, if a person’s world view precludes fact, then all things are possible. For such a reality, certain things become not only possible, but desirable, and therefore, necessary.

I am troubled that we, as a species, have not evolved as I had assumed. I guess I have my own problems with my reality…

kenfusionn said...

The very idea of government as babysitter , and teacher , and provider is utopian fantasy that allows people not to have a concience if they can get away with what they wish,and believe that beurocracy is a panacea.A nation of people empowered by their government to right wrongs , feed hungry , house homeless ( as individuals , and communities) is considerably more efficient , morally responsible , and American.I ache to do with the 20% i tithe to the government what ""I"" would to increase the benevolence , and brotherhood amongst humankind . . . not throw money at the wind and see if it lands in the oil for food - black market of international powerbrokered corruption.
Creationism , and Evolution are only at odds to those that see the two as right , or wrong .
There is no quandery to one possesed of faith , and a desire to understand , rather than one who would seek to be on the winning side of an argument .
The founding fathers thought to govern a sparcely inhabited frontier as a soveriegn nation .Now we are a thickly populated superpower spanning a continent . I believe that separating the "ideals " from the "people" , and weighing them is farsical . The people put forth the ideals , and the most appropriate way to make use of the people , and their ideals is to put the government back in the hands of the people by implementing government by concensus. each of us voting electronically at ATM type kiosks, by text message , or e-mail each day on each consideration from legislation, to acts of war , to wich roads to service first, would make the humongous infrastructure shed many unwanted pounds , and put the power to serve each other back in the hands of the individual .perhaps the concept of that much responsibility is daunting , but so is the concept of a presidential candidate that would sell an election to China . Maybe we should be more worried about how political parties , and special interest groups get to decide what we teach our children; instead of parents , and teachers , and schools !
Maybe we should all shoulder the burden of protecting history from the spin doctors , and form an American response to the moral questions of our age instead of allocating federal funds for a commitee to oversee a study on whether we deserve the right to think for ourselves ,or instead of spouting regurgitated slogans , and bumperstickers from the 60's and shouting louder than the guy next to us " oooh! . . . look at me i'm a victim .give me an endowment ." I hate the fact that unfairness exists , but it is better to do sometrhing about it personally than to entrust it to the vast dullard we call government .

kenfusionn said...

i would further like to add that i do not believe that people are " somehow bestowed with gods will". Rather that ( as i believe )the divine presence is all present , and all knowing . we are not at any point separate from it . the concience ( as it were ) is the mental manifestation of our desire to become closer to the almighty .it is not faith that pits us against each other , but dogma .Jesus Christ the saviour ( i truly believe ) also had a distaste for the idiosynchracies ,and injustices inherent in governance , and organised religion as he taught us to do unto others as we would have done to ourselves , and NOT let it be , an eye for an eye , nor a tooth for a tooth .He kept company with lepers , and the lowly , and the down trodden ( not walking side by side with the powerful or the elite , nor did he ask for the council of any when he did his work .

woman said...

Let me guess that the student was a male...

Cynthia Bronco said...

No, she was female. She's a truly delightful person as well. I don't think she had a complete handle on the ramifications of her assertions at that time.