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The Et Cetera

The Et Cetera

Intentions are key to morality

By Trenton Blackshear

What makes someone a good person? Are people born good? Is doing the right thing an innate instinct?
I believe the answer lies not in what a person does, but in why they are doing it.
Since life is more than shades of black and white, I don’t believe doing “bad” things makes someone a bad person.
Human beings are obsessed with the concept of morality. Particularly in fiction, they seem to gravitate toward the constant struggle between good and evil.
The choice the majority agrees is good is accepted as such, while anything else is cast into a disparaging light.
However, in this new day and age, people are taught not to view things at face value. No matter what someone does, there must always be a reason for doing it.
Thus, one begins to search for motives before deciding, and morality becomes shades of gray.
Consider someone who robs a bank. Since robbing a bank is frowned upon, the initial judgment passed down by the masses would be that the bank robber is “guilty” of doing bad things.
Yet, if it was revealed he had only done so because his only son was dying of leukemia and his insurance company had dropped him, the world would see him as a parent trying to do whatever he could for his son.
Few would find him guilty of doing bad. Some would even praise him for his efforts.
What if someone donates $1 million to a charity helping fight child abuse? That’s good, right?
Now, what if we learn that the charity is a front for his company, allowing him to hide money tax-free and get tax write-offs for donations? The “charitable” benefactor has now become quite the evil mastermind and would lose anything that garnered him such favor.
An old friend once told me, “Do all the bad things you want, as long as they are for a good reason. You’ll be jailed for murdering an old woman, but not the head of the Taliban.”
She was right. I am inclined to believe that for the most part, there are no “good” or “bad” people.
Everyone sits in a field of gray, and only their actions can be judged.

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