Is Impact > Intent or Only When It Suits Our Narrative?

Let's assume for a moment that, as people have been arguing over the election of The Trump, that IMPACT > INTENT.  Let's assume that that brief formula is, indeed, truth and that the results of an action taken actually trump the intentions behind it.

If, in fact IMPACT is greater than INTENT then:

  • The protests of the Iraq Invasion in 2003 (36 million people in over 3,000 separate protests) meant nothing.  Just a lot of noise as it caused no real impact on the invasion.  It changed NOTHING.
  • The protests at Standing Rock meant zip.  After all of the pain and drama of the stand off, 176,000 gallons of oil were spilled 150 miles upstream of the water and sacred lands thus polluting them forever.
  • The protests planned for this coming weekend, which will be empowering and beautiful, will have very little impact considering recent examples, and thus are no different than a sign on the highway erected with great zeal only to be torn down two days later.

I, for one, believe intent matters.  In fact, I'd argue that intent is of greater importance than impact.  Certainly impact is crucial - it is that part of the equation that lasts and has, you know...IMPACT.  But intent contains that spark of hope.

Yes, the impact of voting for Donald Trump contains the seeds of devastation but WHY you voted for him matters more or the impact of voting for anyone other than the flawed candidacy of Hillary Clinton contains exactly the same seeds.  And the delayed impact of action - even a protest that is ignored by power and rendered useless in terms of immediate results - can be a personal one, sparking embers of hope and activism long dormant.  It is the intent that motivates.  It is the intent that fosters hope or despair.

Perhaps it is erroneous to say that intent is greater than impact.  I can say that I believe intent is equal to impact.  Why you do something - a protest march, a protest vote, a purchase of a gadget, a digital magazine - is vital to understanding the results.

A scientist creates a study that shows climate change to be a hoax.  Why she did it matters.
A citizen runs for local office.  Why he ran matters.
A company changes course to create a larger financial footprint.  Why they decided to do that matters.

Without the WHY, we can't navigate understanding of the HOW.  And how one accomplishes something matters more than either the intent or the impact.  We can only either predict the impact or live with the impact.  Understanding intent and then method gives us ammunition to prevent the impact in the future.

Understanding why people voted for Donald Trump gives us the ability to act to prevent it in the future.