Not too long ago, I had an interesting exchange with a colleague. The information he had posted on Facebook was one of hope and frustration. It seemed that someone had developed an interesting alternative for a vaccine but wasn’t listened to.
As we looked into it, we found more details about the project and how it had unfolded. The person had had a lot of good intentions but also been so persuaded by his own solution that he had started to act on it. Instead of choosing the path designed to bring such products to market he had self-experimented and shared his results with relevant institutions. He was not hiding his path and we may assume that he was acting based on his desire to help.
His process had been one of seeking approval and searching for institutions who would help him push through.
What he wasn’t doing, was to search for ways to act within the system as it is defined. He wasn’t acting on the possibilities laid out to get support and to prove that his research was well-founded.
It became an effort to bypass the system and maybe to be seen as a hero.
In this, he was met with people and institutions willing to help but asking him to do so within the system. What they were asking him to do, was to act in a responsible manner. And to remind him as to what that looks like, they used the process as accepted in the system.
In a time of crisis, this can lead, as it did in his case, to an outcry that opportunities are being missed. This happens because people are subject to their hopes and on a quest for faster results. Their priority is to get rid of the problem they see. It transforms the way they evaluate good intentions. They give them much more credit than they would in a retrospective.
It is the moment in which either heroes or villains will emerge.
Once they have acted and found to have made mistakes or misused the system whatever good intentions they had will be brushed aside. Should they succeed, the story may unfold differently but without a guarantee that bypassing the system will be excused.
Staying with good intentions is not sufficient. It often leads to failure. Or as the saying goes “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
It is sticking to one’s own sense of responsibility and acting on it that allows transforming good intentions into good deeds.