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Other People's Sense and Nonsense (and a bit from me)

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WhatWouldJohnCrichtonDo?

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Mark Twain

"What a wee little part of a person's life are his acts and his words! His real life is lead in his head, and is known to none but himself. All day long, the mill of his brain is grinding, and his thoughts, not those other things, are his history. These are his life, and they are not written, and cannot be written. Every day would make a whole book of 80,000 words--365 books a year. Biographies are but the clothes and the buttons of a man--the biography of the man himself cannot be written." 

 

I was struck by this when I first read it years ago, because it expresses so well how little we human beings can really know each other in some ways. But after all the discussions in the Duggar threads lately of possible motivations and thought processes, I suppose I'm swinging back to the idea that it really does matter most what a person says and does. If you have excellent and loving thoughts and intentions and you kill me, I'm still dead. If I can't read a person's "thought biography", my only way of knowing her is through her words and actions. Then again, I'd hate to be judged solely by my speech and actions some days. Oh dear. I guess I'm at a philosophical impasse. Maybe I can find a quote for that...

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ClaraOswin

Posted

I'd never read that quote before. Very interesting. And thought provoking.

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You know, I have been thinking about this since you posted it.  When I try to brainwash people counsel people or give friendly and supportive advice to others, my repetitive mantra is that sometimes intentions don't matter - it is the impact of your actions and behavior that ultimately matters.  Is it better to do good intentionally or to harm accidentally?  I think so.  If I am judging the person that is.  But at the end of the day, in reality what is left is the results of our actions and behaviors.  And to take it a step further, the "niceness" or "meanness" of our actions and behaviors often truly matters less than the impact we have.

For some reason, certain types of people don't like to chat with me.  :kitty-shifty:

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HerNameIsBuffy

Posted

1 hour ago, Whoosh said:

You know, I have been thinking about this since you posted it.  When I try to brainwash people counsel people or give friendly and supportive advice to others, my repetitive mantra is that sometimes intentions don't matter - it is the impact of your actions and behavior that ultimately matters.  Is it better to do good intentionally or to harm accidentally?  I think so.  If I am judging the person that is.  But at the end of the day, in reality what is left is the results of our actions and behaviors.  And to take it a step further, the "niceness" or "meanness" of our actions and behaviors often truly matters less than the impact we have.

For some reason, certain types of people don't like to chat with me.  :kitty-shifty:

I know several people who believe intentions don't matter and the end result stands alone regarding how we treat others.

I'm not saying intentions negate an obligation to try to learn or improve, but personally I'd rather be hurt out of someone else's ignorance than malice in most cases.

If you step on my toe and break it and are really sorry and feel horrible because you weren't looking where you were going and I got hurt I'm still limping, but I'd forgive you.

If you deliberately stomp on my toe because you hate me or are pissed at me not only won't I forgive you, but I'm now really scared of what else you're capable of.  

Or something from the real world - a fender bender.  Someone dings my car on accident I'm annoyed - if someone did it on purpose to spite me I'm enraged and seeing if I can press charges.  Intent matters a lot to me.

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thebestusername

Posted

It really is amazing. I heard a professor give a talk on linguistics and how it applied to the christian philosophy of the trinity. He said that he thought that ideal came from the idea of an ideal language where we can communicate to the point where we are individual but also one.

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25 minutes ago, HerNameIsBuffy said:

I know several people who believe intentions don't matter and the end result stands alone regarding how we treat others.

I'm not saying intentions negate an obligation to try to learn or improve, but personally I'd rather be hurt out of someone else's ignorance than malice in most cases.

If you step on my toe and break it and are really sorry and feel horrible because you weren't looking where you were going and I got hurt I'm still limping, but I'd forgive you.

If you deliberately stomp on my toe because you hate me or are pissed at me not only won't I forgive you, but I'm now really scared of what else you're capable of.  

Or something from the real world - a fender bender.  Someone dings my car on accident I'm annoyed - if someone did it on purpose to spite me I'm enraged and seeing if I can press charges.  Intent matters a lot to me.

I agree with all of this actually and this is what I meant when I said this

2 hours ago, Whoosh said:

<snip>

Is it better to do good intentionally or to harm accidentally?  I think so.  If I am judging the person that is.  

<snip>

 

Sorry if that was unclear.

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church_of_dog

Posted

This connects to a conceptual issue that I think about a lot (which is a whole other problem :pb_lol: and I might just create a separate thread to get FJers input on my personal obsession -- er, I mean relationship issues).  The issue is about how to factor in the concept of "reasonableness" or "how a reasonable person would react".  Because you can have a situation where, let's say, Person A says something and Person B takes offense.  Person A did not intend for Person B to take offense.  Who is in the wrong?  I think the answer is that it depends on how the reasonableness comes into play -- I could see it going either way.  Maybe Person A said something completely reasonable and Person B was unreasonable in their taking offense.  Maybe Person A was really tone deaf in what they said and Person B was perfectly reasonable to take offense.

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1 minute ago, church_of_dog said:

This connects to a conceptual issue that I think about a lot (which is a whole other problem :pb_lol: and I might just create a separate thread to get FJers input on my personal obsession -- er, I mean relationship issues).  The issue is about how to factor in the concept of "reasonableness" or "how a reasonable person would react".  Because you can have a situation where, let's say, Person A says something and Person B takes offense.  Person A did not intend for Person B to take offense.  Who is in the wrong?  I think the answer is that it depends on how the reasonableness comes into play -- I could see it going either way.  Maybe Person A said something completely reasonable and Person B was unreasonable in their taking offense.  Maybe Person A was really tone deaf in what they said and Person B was perfectly reasonable to take offense.

That is the standard used in our legal system for the most part - what would a reasonable man think, do, etc. in the situation.  In terms of interpersonal relationships I think it also holds true with one distinction.  Just for pretend, let's say my reaction to someone calling me shortie is completely unreasonable :kitty-shifty:  Some will say it is tone deaf to ever call someone shortie - others will think it is perfectly acceptable to do so.  The first time it happens things can be tricky.  However, if I calm down after my (totally hypothetical) unreasonable freak out at being called shortie and the person is still talking to me, I can explain that (even if I have no valid reason) it is offensive to me.  If they slip up in the future and call me shortie and apologize - that would be one thing.  Alternatively, if they mock me for my feelings and continue to call me shortie intentionally, that won't work well relationship wise.  Of course, it is all different to some extent when you start talking about less personal interactions or if the thing that I find offensive is important and needs to be said...

 

Total new tangent to explain a bit further about my first post which is not all that clear.  I think it is often difficult for others to truly know what our intentions are and sometimes we may not totally know ourselves.  Despite that, I think that the impression we give off as to what our intentions are actually crosses the line from stuff in our head to a behavior or action.  So to that extent, again actual intentions are less important once again.  If someone steps on my toe and then apologizes profusely and appears to make all kinds of changes to avoid the same thing happening in the future, that will likely make me feel better about it all and help me to forgive.  Yet in reality, their intention may have been to step on and break my toe and then trick me about the whole thing all along.  As long as I never know the truth, the actual intentions don't matter much unless one is judging the toe-stepper.

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WhatWouldJohnCrichtonDo?

Posted

When I make a mistake driving, like accidentally cutting someone off, I try to remember it the next time soneone does a similar kind of thing to me. It makes it easier to forgive them, or at least brush it off, if I remember that just like I screw up by mistake, so do other people. 

But I was also thinking about when people do things that have a bad effect from a good, but misguided intention. For instance, fundies who believe that LGBTQ people will go to hell. The loving fundie may have a good intention. "You're my child, I love you, and I don't want you to go to hell." So parent fundie sends child to "pray the gay away". Loving intention, bad effect. I guess I hope that if a person's intention is genuinely good and loving, that person might be more open to changing than one who enjoys power too much or enjoys hurting people.

I think I opened up a bigger topic than I realized. I keep thinking of new things. 

P.S. I got this quote, and most of the others in my personal collection, from Reader's Digest.

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2 hours ago, HerNameIsBuffy said:

Or something from the real world - a fender bender.  Someone dings my car on accident I'm annoyed - if someone did it on purpose to spite me I'm enraged and seeing if I can press charges.  Intent matters a lot to me.

Worth remembering that intent often matters a lot to the law, as well.

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EyeQueue

Posted

I think that both intent and words/actions can matter. For example, if the vast majority of your actions are not spiteful, mean, etc., but on a few occasions your words and actions are thoughtless and hurtful, that's completely normal. I would hope most people wouldn't judge others based on some departures from their standard behavior.

That whole being thoughtless and hurtful on occasion--no matter the reason (had a bad day, hangry, had no rest, super stressed, whatever)? That's called being human.

There are, however, some really shitty human beings out there whose actions time and time again are overwhelmingly thoughtless, mean, and petty. And no matter what their intentions are, they are still crappy human beings.

One example from my own personal life right now is that I'm dealing with some people in an organization I've been involved with for quite a few years. While the organization is a great asset to the community, and the people in question undoubtedly do tremendous good in the community by spending their time and talents running this organization (intentions) and providing opportunities for others, they nonetheless treat others abysmally, are constantly ungrateful, and engage in petty, rude behaviors (among others, screaming in people's faces and punching doors in little temper tantrums) that would make Queen Bee at your local junior high blush in shame. 

Anyway, YMMV.

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Whoosh

Posted (edited)

55 minutes ago, withaj said:

Worth remembering that intent often matters a lot to the law, as well.

In criminal law, intent is a necessary element of a crime with the exception of strict liability crimes (eg drunk driving, statutory rape).  While there are different specifics for different situations, if the prosecution cannot prove the necessary mens rea (loosely translates to guilty mind), you will not be found guilty of the crime.

In civil law (contract, tort, etc), intent frequently does not matter at all, though it may be considered in determining the scope of culpability or the extent of damages awarded.   

Again, in my mind, the law considers intent when making judgments about the person or actor, not when determining how negative the outcome actually is.

Edited by Whoosh
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WhatWouldJohnCrichtonDo?

Posted (edited)

@EyeQueue, sorry you're experiencing that at the organization. So stressful. I know someone with a boss like that. The boss does good in the community and really helps some families, but the boss treats the person I know (employee) like crap. Screaming fits, blaming everything that goes wrong on the employee. Hope things change for your situation!

Edited by WhatWouldJohnCrichtonDo?
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  • Posts

    • Marionette

      Posted

      2 hours ago, G33kywife said:

      I get that Calvinists and Arminians have some pretty big differences in how they view doctrine, but none of it pertains to anything that Christians consider “primary essentials.” I have studied both viewpoints extensively, and I understand that some people are super passionate about one side or another. I just can’t see how choosing to marry someone from a different side would cause division. It seems like Jinger has an extreme people pleaser personality and was terrified of causing waves. Sad. 

      (Sorry to double-post, I’m on mobile.) 

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    • HoneyBunny

      Posted

      1 hour ago, feministxtian said:

      The priest won't give a damn. He probably considers you a non-Catholic anyway. 

      I told off a priest at my mother's funeral. It didn't do any good. I wanted to slap the smug right off his face. The mother had not been to Mass in years due to being housebound...he was like "well how do I know she was still Catholic?". 

       

      That would have pushed me over the edge, too. My mom hasn’t been to Mass in years either; however, she turned a table into an altar with her own tablecloth and crucifix for the Eucharistic minister to use when he visited her assisted living center. And since the pandemic, with no Eucharistic ministers allowed in, she is the person who has organized  non-denominational  Christmas and Easter services for all the residents. Don’t tell me she’s not Catholic enough. 

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      There is a liberal Jesuit parish operating about 25 miles north of where I live.  It intermittently has and doesn’t have the blessing of the diocese (a different one than I’m in).  I have a feeling it’s on the outs right now. I might try there, but, frankly, am not sure if I’m committed enough after all this to even give it a try. 

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    • AussieKrissy

      Posted

      8 hours ago, Four is Enough said:

      As an adoptive parent of two severely neglected children, I would have been surprised that the birth parents were actually giving money to the state to support their neglected children. Hell, they neglected them when they were in the same house! Are they going to step up when someone else is feeding them, housing them, clothing them, sending them to school? 

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    • SnarkyLawyer

      Posted

      12 minutes ago, Mela99 said:


      Mercy.

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    • Marionette

      Posted

      18 hours ago, OldFadedStar said:

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