Here’s the thing, people contradict themselves on a grossly regular basis; which, on a deterministic level, is really weird. I think it means that stated intensions have nothing to do with actual intensions or actual actions. Here’s a few examples.
I don’t like dogs. Or social networking. Or modern ideas about gender relations. Or stupid memes. But a brief scroll through my browser history would reveal that I am either very confused or a liar.
But despite the fact that I spent a couple hours Monday night reading about Tibetan Mastiffs I really do not care for dogs. I wouldn’t let this distaste get in the way of obtaining a couple of them if I was going to live in a small A-frame cabin in the Alaskan wilderness, but this is a highly specialized circumstance.
And then there’s the Batman Begins moment, sometimes what people actually do matters more than what they think they mean on the inside.
I think the conclusion here is that sometimes things happen, other forces, other causes, intervene and produce an effect different from what you would hope. But sometimes you have just been fooling yourself.
Here’s another example, sometimes people say that they like you, and that they are your friend. I don’t know what they mean by this. What is a friend if not someone who, if you have fallen into a pit, will fix and lower a rope? This seems like basic human courtesy to me, like maybe the bare minimum of what it might be to treat someone like a fellow person. Yet as far as I can tell some people use the word friend to mean something more to the effect of, let the man who has cut the rope fall. It is not like the sentiment doesn’t make sense on some level, it’s just not friendship.
So here’s the thing, do I take it that the people who have treated their friend in this way genuinely do not care if he lives or dies, or do I assume that, just as I have many times, they are contradicting themselves? That other circumstances have intervened and they simply did not express whatever it was that they truly felt? On the other hand, might these events reveal deeper feeling that their words so carefully hid?
There is, of course, no way to know. I can only judge my own intensions, and even those rather badly. I’m not going to assume the best of people just because I can. But I also need to be able to deal with these people, whose stated feelings I can no longer trust in any way.
It is a dilemma for which time may be the only solution.