In one form or another this rule exists. It is Terry Goodkind’s second rule but it existed in another form as an English proverb. The simple truth is that a lot of people have good intentions and most of the time and a great deal of Harm is caused from them. The one thing that is almost problematic with good intentions is that they are often emotionally based. This means that the effect of them is very rarely thought out. People often mean well, but they do not see the short of long term consequences of what actions they will take. Often we are assuming that what actions we will take will have only good results and that is more often than not a big assumption on our part.
In large part this is why I have turned to libertarianism as a philosophy. Penn Jillette says that his heart says that he does not know what is best for others, but I think that this is not really the issue. I may at times know what is best for others, the real issue is that it is not my right to impose this on others. I simply do not have the right to pursue other people’s happiness for them.
What one has to understand is that when a person or group acts in power, even if the intentions are good, the power of personal right to choice is going to well up in a person. If you act and it is not what was wanted by the other person, that person will resent you actions and begin to resist them. The other problem is that in using power to fulfil your good intentions is that there are always people who are harmed by the use of power.
This is why I have long opposed the welfare state mentality that dominates many people. The good intention is to feed, cloth or house people but to do that requires money and resources so where to get them? ‘I got it! Let’s use government force to take from the rich to give to the poor.’ The problems with this are legion. 1) It dehumanizes the rich and middle class which are people. Class envy is almost always employed and in the end the rich and middle class are not even human beings just colossal piggy banks . 2) It dehumanizes the poor by creating them into a dependent class. They are no longer people who might have dreams and aspirations that need to be encouraged so they are no longer poor but merely people who need to be helped and that help is almost always condescending. 3) It creates a bloated bureaucracy that depends on both of the above. There is no vested interest for the social worker to get people off welfare. There is no family independence agency with a board that states – “we helped these people off social services to independence.” Fact is social workers depend on people being poor, getting on the system and staying that way. This creates more cost for being ‘charitable’ and less going to the actual poor. I could go on with this list for quite some time. The point is that to deal with the problem of poverty using government welfare creates more problems than the actual poverty by itself did. I haven’t even touched the ideas of fraud, waste or even lack of motivation to change the system.
There are many things like this where people in their good intentions created something that actually creates more problems than it solves and in large part that will cause resentment that causes more problems. In the end, people resent when they are forced to participate in something that takes from them to ‘help’ something else. Charity is not really charity when it is forced.
There are many more examples of good intentions gone wrong. The idea is that I may have good intentions but I need to sit down and consider the short and long term ramifications of my actions before I act. Remembering the next rule in order to find my way: Passion Rules Reason.