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I've written essays on for this word on less than 4 times. In each case, I started by noting that there's a popular phrase about intentions and its relationship to a particular road.

 

More than just an easy quip, whenever I hear this word, I immediately begin to ponder the significance of intention vs action. Can one (intention) trump the other (action)? Always? Sometimes? How?

 

It would be facile to say that when intention leads to action, then intention mattered, but when it doesn't, it didn't. But I think that's intentionally letting the idea go without real introspection.

 

Let's say I intend to visit my friend in the hospital. Most people believe that if I drive there, park the car, walk the requisite 14 miles from lot to the front desk, figure out that their room changed, walk the requisite 14 miles from the front desk to the room, and... find out that my friend is out getting tests and won't be back for an hour - that my intentions "count" because my actions prove it.

 

But what if I never left my desk? I intended to do everything above, but got caught up in meetings. Could I have skipped those meetings? Maybe. But I didn't, and never made it to the hospital.

 

The end result is the same in both cases. Does my intention still "count" for something in the second example? Many of us would tend to say that yes, intention counts in both cases.

 

But let's take another example: I intend to kill my coworker.

 

To be clear: he's got it coming. He plays bagpipe music from his computer speakers all day, cooks broccoli and fish in the microwave, consistently mixes up Star Wars and Star Trek in conversation, and insists on using my desk as a staging area for epic battles between his "My Little Pony" figurines (he's a Brony) and his limited edition "Welcome Back Kotter" collectibles.

 

Despite my very sincere intentions to shove him off this mortal coil, I've never followed through. Should I be arraigned for justifiable homicide? Most people would say that no, my intention doesn't count.

 

So can we have it both ways?

 

I look forward to your thoughts, as well as your ideas about intentions - both good and bad - in the comments below.