Motives and Methods

We cannot know or judge motives.  They are invisible to the naked eye.  Therefore, we must address methods.  This brings a different challenge, because with methods, you have to recognize provisions in the law and loopholes for unique circumstances.

Judging between motives and methods is a difficult task.  Unfortunately, a person can have the purest of motives, but if their actions are a violation of law the law must be upheld.  In Herman Melville’s story, Billy Budd, a young man violates the law, and even though he is provoked and handicapped, the leadership on board the HMS Bellipotent is required by law to court-martial and hang the young man, though they believe his intentions were not malicious.  If they stray from the letter of the law, potential mutiny from the British fleet during war-time with France could become huge problem.  So, a precedent must be upheld.  This is a condition common to mankind and there are many opinions about how to handle these situations.

As a child I burned my arm, and with a loving motive my grandmother put butter on the burn.  Her motive was pure, but her method was the worst thing that could have been performed.  I have used this illustration to show that motive and method must be separated to judge a situation.