Is it really the thought that counts? I think not. And the hit Christmas classic, “A Miracle on 34th Street” shows that a positive action is more important than good intent. Using three examples from the movie, I prove that when we do good things, good things are bound to happen, even when the motive is a little selfish.
Let’s look at some examples:
- Macy’s department store begins sending customers to competitor’s department stores. ensure the customer gets the best deal, Macy’s gimmick is based completely on the long-term reward of loyal customers and profit. The new campaign’s aim is to convince customers that Macy’s cares about the customer, more than making a buck. Voila, buyers become loyal Macy’s customers because they want to shop at a place that puts good conscience over profit. Although intent behind the action is far from pure, the outcome is good: the customers really do get the best price and product. Perhaps Macy’s morals are still in question, but the effect of the positive action makes an overall positive change.
- The postal service, seeing a chance to get rid of thousands of letters meant for Santa Claus, decide to send all the “Dear Santa” letters to the NYC Courthouse, where Kris Kringle is on trial for lunacy. The postmen have no interest in the welfare of one Kris Kringle – all they care about is getting those annoying letters out of their hair! But because the postmen send the letters to the courthouse, they inadvertently prove that Kris Kringle is Santa Claus. Just when all hope is lost, and the judge is about to rule Kris Kringle insane, the selfish action taken by the post office saved the day. They did a good deed, not to help Kris Kringle escape the looney bin, but because the postmen wanted to get rid of all those inconvenient letters. Again, they did something good with a selfish intent, and it turned out just fine for everyone.
- Mr. Gailey, in a plot to seduce his beautiful neighbor Doris, befriends Doris’s little daughter Susan. He begins helping the precocious girl enjoy her childhood, not because he is worried about her welfare, but because he wants to impress Doris. In the end, he not only improves Susan’s life by showing her how to enjoy the whimsies of childhood, he also wins the affections of Doris. Again, intent is dwarfed by the goodness of the action itself.
How much do you think intent matters? The same question can be asked about Amazon sponsoring Black Lives Matter. Does it really carry any importance whether Jeff Bezos of Amazon truly cares, or is all that matters the message? Some die-hard BLM would say it doesn’t matter as long as Amazon promotes the common good. Other die-hard BLM activists would say the opposite and implore that unless Amazon’s executives truly believe in the meaning of BLM, then the ad campaigns are worthless.
What do you think? Does action always trump intent? Or is it the thought that counts? Let me know, I’m truly curious!