Good Intentions

Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men look on and do nothing. 

Excluding the predictable gender specific predudice of the times, I am finding something rather personally apt about this statement from 1867 that was stolen from Mr Milton and  tarted up by a Whig politician some time later. I have been feeling the consequences of someone else’s silence for a few years now and continue to do so. But enough of that. 

A great deal of the unhappiness in the world seems to spring from people who have never taken that brave step of taking a good hard look at themselves. Take Trump for example. How many layers of self deception must that guy have had to build up to think himself capable of running a school tuck shop, let alone a huge nation? Once you are that deluded, the leap from one to the next isn’t very far, providing you surround yourself with enough henchpersons of James Bond proportions that is  You don’t have to have world leadership plans to be a bit messed up though, my very own troll seems to make a fine job of being a hate monger , calling names from the anonymity of a masked IP address, while championing that which is right. 

Right…. Such a funny notion. I’m always drawn back to that Pink Floyd song “money” and all the voices at the end, and every single one of them being convinced that they were definitely in the right about something or other. I’m constantly confused about what the right thing is to do in many situations and I feel that is a perfectly healthy way to be, I seek advice, get options and I make sure that there is no one I turn to who is only going to tell me what I want to hear. It’s a dangerous path that, surrounding yourself by people who think and act in exactly the same way that you do, comforting but bloody dangerous. It is human nature to do it though, to band into likeminded groups for common cause, us against them, dehumanising other people who don’t share our beliefs, politics, music tastes, whatever.  Us against them, they must be good because they believe what I do, they must be bad because they don’t. Convenient, simple…..

Things are never simple.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions apparently, you do a good thing because of that conviction of rightness and then you discover all the unintended consequences. Everything is interconnected and everything we do sends ripples spreading out in unforeseen directions and before we know it, mission drift, collateral damage, and all those polite terms for a complete bloody mess. Good intentions can also be a wonderful means of not taking a good, hard, look at yourself. It can be  such a boost to the ego to be seen as a good person, as much as it can eat away at you to be seen as a bad person. For most of us the truth lies somewhere inbetween. Instant gratification good can be such a rush though and a lot of people get addicted too it. I have met a number of people in my life whose personal lives are a complete mess while they are regarded by others as being virtual saints in public. It’s so much easier to fix other people’s problems than your own though, so less complicated, and there is the added bonus that someone else will pat you on the back for your efforts. In the meantime though, there is misery right on your very doorstep, but so long as people don’t focus on that, everything will be just fine and dandy. 

I find myself thinking of stories from the big religions quite often, not because I’m seeking some get out clause for the fate of my own demise but how these stories get into people’s psyches. Take Soddom and Gomorah for example some people like the odd blow job or bottom sex and they are smote down by angels raining brimstone and fire…. Harsh! I mean seriously, that is supposed to set a good example? That, in biblical terms, is acceptable. Just think of all those songs with angels in them, they suddenly take on a totally different connotation if you see the cast of Goodfellas with big white wings.  The Americans rained down fire in the form of napalm in Vietnam and went about their day. I expect the workers at Dow chemicals still had works do’s and complained about the coffee in the cafeteria between manufacturing death from above. Rightness is mutable, rightness is a perspective, rightness is rarely ever right.

A lot of religion has been replaced by other things over the last few decades. The waving of the banner seems to be nothing more than a form of the confessional of late. People turn up, wave their flag and feel better. It makes the same statement that going to church used to. You have a banner and a slogan and you are right with your community, with your fellow banner wavers, you belong. It doesn’t seem to matter if you are a terrible human being or a saint (we’ve ruled out angels as wrong uns), have banner, have right on your side. Have right on your side and you can do any shitty thing you want.

Things are so very much more complicated than that, always have been, always will be, but independent thought seems to be a dying art form.

Before any of us can ever even attempt to make a right decision it is vital to take a long, hard, honest, stare into the very heart of our being and make peace with what we find there. It isn’t easy, in fact it is so scary that many people never do it. It’s only then that any of us can even hope to make any real and permanent change in ourselves and as for others? Forget it! That’s up to them. You can set a good example, but beyond that, it’s up to them. In the meantime though, just spread a bit of love about, love is always appreciated. 

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