The ever raging battle between INTENTION and ACTION

I recently ran across this headline,

Good samaritans thwart robbery by stealing keys to getaway car.

Have a look at that story

What immediately came to my mind was the discussion I was having last week with a highly respected mind, where he expressed the opinion that,

… your intention is not enough, you are judged by your (in)actions. Nobody can read your mind to decide your intention, so your actions speak louder than your intentions,

Of course, the moment I ran across the above report, I did not let the opportunity pass, and confronted him and asked, tongue in cheek giving the scenario below…
Good samaritans thwart robbery by stealing keys to getaway car.

Intents, actions. Stealing car keys is as much of an offense as stealing the car. The intention is not judged, the action is, in courts. Has an offense been committed or not, despite good intention?

Of course he started parrying and dodging, like the legendary Cassius Clay, evading and rationalizing.

Hear him:

Stealing the key to get away car…that’s not what happened…it was merely a journalistic expression to attract readership. “Hero bust robbery attempt by disabling getaway car and confronting the hoodlums” or something like that would have been a more accurate account.

Did he answer my question? No!

I forcefully attempted to bring him back to my original question.

The action remains that the car key was stolen. An offense, despite the intention being altruistic. You took what doesn’t belong to you, that’s stealing, no matter the intent. Is that not what you have been saying, that intents are not enough, but that actions are sacrosanct and non negotiable?

Of course, the great mind, a computer nerd, boxed to a corner, now backed down, by saying,

You are just in a mood for argument this morning. Life is not syntactic…you must always consider the context…in order words, life is semantic. Even computer compilers know that and can generate different executable code from similar syntactic constructs.

Satisfied that I have railroaded my point successfully, I released him from his tight corner.

The discourse reminds me of the post, The Robe Does Not Make The Monk

Juxtaposing the two, it is fairly obvious that an action is not as important as the reason / intent(ion) behind the action.

A portion of a hadith in the Quran even says,

All actions are judged by motives, and each person will be rewarded according to their intention.

Have a look at this sad one :

There was a man who was at a neighbor’s party. He returned home to get something he needed,and heard a noise. Thinking a burglar was hiding in the closet, he opened the door and shot the intruder.Immediately, the man realized he had shot and killed his daughter. Later, he learned she was hiding in the closet as part of a game or joke.

Clearly, the intention was not to commit murder. I believe he should be set free. Or, will he still be sentenced for manslaughter (rather than murder)…after factoring intention or context?

Your take?


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