An action performed can be perceived differently by different people. Some people may perceive donation as an ostentatious act but others perceive it as an act for a cause. No matter how people perceive an action, its actual importance and credibility can be evaluated by finding out the motives behind it. A good action is always appreciated and people rarely care about the motivation behind it because it is a common assumption that anything which has good consequences must have good motivations and pure intentions. And some people just don’t like the idea of judging others’ actions. They claim that it’s immoral and one does not have the right to doubt someone else’s honorable actions. Although people argue that judging others’ ‘good actions’ is immoral because it has positive consequences but it is important to know the motivation behind unselfish deeds because some people use them as a tool to disguise their personality, there are selfish reasons behind one’s goodness and even if the motivation is good, it is important to find it out because it needs to be encouraged accordingly.
To judge or not to judge!
Most people believe that judging someone else’s selfless actions is immoral, which to some extent is true. One does not have the right to look upon somebody’s altruistic act critically but if the motivation behind the ‘criticism’ is good and for the welfare of people then the argument becomes redundant. It is not always bad to evaluate someone’s actions because it is not necessary that action with good consequences must have good motives behind it. For example a person who wants to poison someone would want to have a good relationship with him. He would be friendly towards him and try to win his trust. And once that is done, the moment he finds an opportunity, he will poison his victim. In this case would it still be immoral to criticize the person’s behavior in the very first place? Moreover consider a situation where a murderer is killed. Apparently it’s a murder of a human being and is not a human action. But when the motive behind killing the murderer is considered, which is to protect the other people; then the action suddenly becomes humane. The same is true for apparently selfless actions. They might appear to be very altruistic and public-centered but unless the motive behind the action is not known, the credibility of the action to be unselfish lies ambiguously. Thus it can be argued that it is not immoral to evaluate certain good actions ‘critically’ if it is done for a better cause.
Is the deed enough?
Good actions could be used as a tool to disguise one’s personality into an honorable person. It is important to know the motivation behind a good deed because if someone is using it as a tool to gain reputation in order to harm the community under the hood then it is recommended that the society should discourage his good deeds and he shouldn’t act as a thoughtful member of the society. One major example is the Jamaican drug dealer Christopher Dudus, who gained the support of local people by giving them food, sending their children to schools, and resolving their conflicts. When the Jamaican government issued an arrest warrant against Christopher, his supporters came out to protest and it leads to a state of emergency in the city. His investments finally paid off to create trouble for the government in catching the drug lord. Only if the local residents have known what their benefactor was actually doing. The same situation holds true for spies from enemy countries who try to gain the trust of local residents by doing favors to them and being helpful in certain situations. This attitude gives them a way to enter into society and become a part of it. Since people are blinded by the’ good person’ mask he is wearing, they don’t usually get into the details of motivation which prompts him to become a considerate member of the community. Anna Chapman, a Russian spy, was reported as a friendly, nice, and caring individual by her neighbors and the community was surprised when she was arrested. The community wasn’t expecting Anna to get arrested because her goodness had blindfolded their eyes and only the knowledge of motivation behind her actions would have revealed her true face. These examples in our lives have proven the fact that selfless deeds served as bait for those who don’t consider motivations behind actions important. It is not necessary that one should criticize the good actions, but he should focus on the reason and motivation behind it, which will help the society in different ways.
Is there always a catch?
The goodness of people may not only have bad motives but it could also have selfish reasons. There are situations when a person does something which is ‘apparently’ for the welfare of others but the person doing it may not have the intention to help others. For example if a person sees a guy tripping over a stone in the way, and he removes the stone out of the way just because one day he can trip over the same stone. The motivation behind this action changes the overall impact of the ‘apparently’ great action. Knowing the motivation helps avoid misunderstandings and wrong judgments about one’s personality. A selfish person may be regarded as a very facilitative, considerate, and helpful being if motivations behind his actions are not known. These kinds of misunderstandings lead to expectations and when the same person does not reach up to the expected behavior then disappointment is inevitable. And if motivations are known resulting in an evident personality, then it is quite easy to predict his/her behavior under certain situations. Human behavior is a very complex phenomenon; sometimes the same person can have different motives behind the same kind of action. There might be more than one reason to a certain action and if selfishness is one of the motives, then it is given the highest priority in the human mind. Studies have shown that everyone has the ultimate aim: the welfare of self-interest. Since the element of self-interest varies from person to person, it is important to know the motivations behind one’s actions as it will tell us how self-centered a person is and this will in turn save the people from getting disappointed.
All is not bad and evil.
Other than bad motives and selfish reasons, good action can have pure intentions good motivation and encouragement of such actions is important. If the motivation for a person to perform good deeds lies on humanitarian grounds then such actions should be encouraged. Studies have shown that social acceptance and norms play a major role in developing personalities. It means that if a certain action is considered inappropriate by the vast majority in the society then an individual refrains himself from that particular action. And if society encourages an action, then the action along with its motivation encourages. Thus if people encourage a particular action without knowing its motivation, then unknowingly they might be encouraging something inappropriate because the motivation behind it is not good. This logic can be applied to raise children with appropriate behavior and an appropriate motivation for that behavior. It can be proved by the famous nature against nurture debate. Even twins have different personalities if they are raised in different environments having different norms. Social psychologists explain it by pointing out the fact that the motivation that leads a person to do a particular action is actually determining the personality of that person. In other words, a selfish motive would have an inclination towards selfish personality and a humane motive would result in a humanistic personality. Moreover it can also be argued that different societies in the world have different norms and these differences are partly due to the fact that society approves certain actions and motivations while rejects others. It is important to know the motivation behind any good action because it determines what society is sowing for the future.
Shakespeare once said “Strong reasons make strong actions”, thus one should look at the reason behind an action even though some people might consider it immoral, but it helps one to identify the personality of different people in disguise. It is the reason behind an action that makes it easier for one to understand the difference between being selfish and handy. The motivation to a certain act helps society distinguish between what is appropriate for the collective welfare. Keeping in mind the diversity of human nature, it is important to know the motivation behind any public-spirited deed.