On the idea of Intent

Have you ever thought about the concept we call intent?

In our justice system, if you intend to cause harm, it’s considered much more egregious than if you do harm through just not being careful enough to prevent it. That concept is called neglect.

While I generally agree with the idea that intending to harm is worse than doing harm without meaning to, I think we give too much leeway for lack of bad intent. I mean, we excuse ourselves too much by saying, “Well, my intentions were good,” instead of admitting we caused hurt with our words or actions. Too much is excused by saying, “They meant well.”

Why does this bother me? It’s the fact that, obviously, we don’t seem to take enough time or effort to discern if what we say or do would cause harm. We assume we know better, or we simply don’t think at all.

If we do something that is harmful to someone and they tell us, it is our responsibility to simply apologize and move on. Yes, clarify it wasn’t intentional, but still acknowledge how our actions or words were hurtful.

And if you continue to do something that someone tells you is a problem, it is very much intentional.

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