We Aren’t Our Intentions

Intentions are a big deal right now. Everyone wants to pin down your intention. We affirm our intentions. We call on the universe to seal our intentions. May I raise a hand and suggest another perspective?

How exactly are you behaving? What are your actions saying about you? If your actions aren’t matching your intentions, there is work to be done.

judgeothersSaying that we don’t judge, that we love people for their inner beauty does not match up to the action of making fun of someone who is overweight, or dressed unfashionably, or with an unfortunate haircut.

Celebrating a season of peace and kindness does not match up with snapping, “It’s perfectly all right to say Merry Christmas and God Bless America!” in a belligerent way, daring someone to disagree with either half of that mismatched sentence.

Sadly, we are judged by our looks, our weight, how cool we are (or are not). That’s the first impression. Hard to overcome. But the lasting impression, what builds our reputation and speaks far more than our intentions are our actions. When we are mean, small, cruel, it’s hard to say, “But I intended to be kind, generous and understanding.” That which we do to others we do to ourselves. In diminishing another person, we diminish our own potential. The road to perdition is paved with good intentions. But the road is traveled by actions.

The great Jewish sage, Hillel, was once goaded by a detractor to describe the entire Torah (Sciptures) while standing on one leg. Hillel replied, “That which is hateful to you, do not unto another: This is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary — go study it.”

—Quinn McDonald prays for violence and anger to stop. Next February she will teach a workshop in Las Cruces New Mexico to do just that.