“The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention.” — John Burroughs
“All that counts in life is intention.” — Andrea Bucelli
There’s plenty of opinions out there on what, exactly, we mean by the word “intention”. A new age guru may give you one answer, and folks who deny humans have any sort of free will may tell you the word is meaningless. Scientists are late comers to the “intention” game. Experiments conducted at Princeton, Cambridge, and the University of Arizona all point to the fact that our intentions can physically affect the outside world (See Lynne McTaggart’s book “The Intention Experiment”). How can our intentions affect physical things? No one really knows the mechanism, but the effects can be measured, much in the way Newton had no idea how gravity pulls an apple from a tree, yet he could still observe and measure the effect. Intention has even crept into physics. Quantum physicists have analyzed the role our conscious intentions play in the behavior of entangled particles, and how our intentions effect the double-slit experiment (Richard Feynman calls this experiment the greatest physics experiment ever). Still, no one is really sure why things work this way–but quantum mechanics does work, with amazing accuracy. That being said, I cringe whenever QM (sounds like I know more when I abbreviate, right?) is brought up because it’s become such a cliche.
It is odd to see human “intention” influence the outcome of a scientific experiment. Such intervention defies common sense. Common sense dictates that people will not be sent to prison for bad acts they did not intend to commit. Makes sense, right? Well, common sense also tells us that the earth isn’t moving through space (the ground doesn’t feel like it’s moving, does it?). Common sense can betray you, and that’s particularly true of the law. Don’t apply common sense to a collection of laws written by people that, on average, have little common sense. I have numerous examples of how your tax payer dollars have been wasted on crimes never intended to be committed. For example, years ago I had a client that was waiting tables at a local restaurant. He went to his co-worker’s 19th birthday party. Cute girl. Single guy. Co-workers. Yes, after the birthday party, they had sex. Some time later, he was arrested for lewd act on a minor. Yes, the girl just turned 16. We call this statutory rape. Turns out, she was lying about her age so she could serve alcohol as part of her waitress duties. The big candles on her cake announcing a “HAPPY NINETEENTH!” were no defense to the charge. Same goes for child porn. Should you be unlucky enough to click on “Grannies Gone Wild” yet somehow find yourself diverted to much younger folks–you may go to prison for something you never intended to view. Technically, you don’t even have to view it, if the 0’s & 1’s show up somewhere on your hard drive, you can land in prison. Now, should we punish acts void of criminal intent? Are there some criminal accusations for which our good intentions can provide a defense? Continue Reading