Whenever we are hurt/harmed or have been at the end of an unsatisfying or unfavourable situation, we replay the situation and try to judge each and every action, of ourselves and of others. We often reflect upon the incident from various lenses.

There are frameworks to better understand and analyse your/others’ actions, one such framework that has helped me to judge these situations is “Intention Vs Action”.

Why Intention Vs Action?

Whenever there is a conflict in your life and if you confront the other person, they often don’t acknowledge the harm happened. Sometimes they have their own reasons of doing what they did, sometimes they are slaves of their habits. They might not have any malice intention against you but still the bad happens, either they were lying or hideous about their intentions or they didnt think it through. They will say I tried this, I was trying to do that, or xyz. But what happened did happen.

In the world we live in, where there is constant propaganda and deceit, intentions mean very little and actions are the deciding factors.

If everyone didn’t think of one’s action’s impact, they will continue doing what they think is right regardless of its repercussions. The purpose of judging based on actions is to save yourself in future from being on a loosing end.

What about punishment?

The morality of an action lies in the intent behind it, not its outcome. Punishment is supposed to serve the purpose of teaching a moral lesson.

There’s no need to punish someone who did their best to do the right thing; they already understand and respect the morality of the issue (being optimistic, hoping they didn’t lie about their intentions). Give them a chance to make amends and further improve themselves. There aren’t enough benevolent people in the world, and discarding/discouraging the few we have just because they proved to be imperfect is just petty and wasteful.

You should not punish a person based on action alone, but judgement should be done according to the action’s impact.

What do I mean by judgement if not punishment?

Judgement is judging the behaviour of the person, does his moral compass align with yours. You can chose/improve your future actions based on this judgement. This will help you prioritise yourself over others.

Punishment is the loss one has to take to learn. Judge to save yourself, punish to teach. Often it would happen that you won’t have the authority to punish someone, so don’t. You don’t own them.

This exercise should be done for self also. We should judge our own actions based on the impact and not our intention.

Judge basis action, punish basis intention.


Tanmay Bhat explained this concept wrt comedy here: