There’s a song by Helmet called Sam Hell that I have on my iPod. It comes up on the rotation pretty frequently and it reminds me of that saying “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. I’ve always wondered what the real meaning behind that saying is supposed to be.
Does it mean that people, unless they’re a sociopath, always believe that they’re doing the right thing? We all believe our way is the right way and our ideals are the correct ones. I don’t know anyone that sets out purposefully to do the wrong thing. Most people actually think that they’re living the way they should even when it’s painfully obvious to those around them that they’re not. People have an amazing capacity to justify their actions and believe in their own reasoning. Sometimes, even with our good intentions, we just fall short through ignorance, a lack of perseverance, or a lack of ability. We all hurt others from time to time and regardless of what our intentions are, sometimes those hurts can scar.
Or does it really mean the day to day good intentions that we mean to do but never do? The phone call we meant to make to an old friend. A meal we intended to make for a sick friend. Or the time you meant to spend with your family. Everyday, I think we all wake up and hope to be better people. Do the things that we know we should do… play all day with our kids, eat that Lean Cuisine for lunch or volunteer our time to a cause we believe in. Yet, those moments can slip by us… you got caught up running errands and fed the kids McDonald’s instead of the day at the park you intended. That Lean Cuisine still sits in the freezer where it was this morning and the cheeseburger you ate sits like a heavy rock, reminding you of what you had told yourself the day would be like. That phone call to the charity, unmade. You tell yourself that you meant to do those things. You meant to be that person, so maybe you are… just by your intentions. Perhaps that’s where we falter… believing that we are the people we set out to be without actually doing any of the things that make us better people. So we lie to ourselves and thus the road to hell has begun. Telling ourselves that by not being a bad person, we are actually the good person we wanted to be.
I haven’t figured it out yet… I struggle all the time with the person I feel like I should be but fall short of almost daily. My hope is the realization of that failure and the desire to do better will divert my path.