It’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.
I have always loved this quote from Batman Begins. There is a lot of truth in it. But when you think about this quote deeply, you realize that something is missing. It’s true that we can talk big but what ultimately matters is what we do about our dreams, ideals and promises. But do actions tell us everything?
Let’s say there are two people: A and B. Both help others as much as they can. On surface, their actions look similar but their intentions could be completely different. Maybe A is helping people because he is feeling guilty about something. Or maybe, he wants brownie points for entering heaven. Or maybe, he has a hidden desire to be appreciated and being helpful is a means to this end.
A person might say that he/she loves you. He/she does all the nice things, takes care of you. But is he/she doing this for you or because of his/her lack of self-worth? He/she might be loving you for his/her image. Is he/she with you because he/she is just afraid of loneliness? But remember, the intentions could be also positive. Somebody’s behavior might not be up to your expectation but maybe his/her intentions were more positive.
Ironically, in Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne deliberately acts like a jerk to keep the identity of Batman a secret and also to save Gotham city. If we just judge him on the basis of his actions (playboy who always acts selfishly), we would be completely wrong about the man. So before we jump to conclusions about someone based on their actions, let’s remember that his/her intentions could be more positive or more negative than what we think. In the end, we can never be completely sure about someone’s intentions. We just tell ourselves a story about the intentions behind the other person’s actions.
Of course, our intentions are not completely black or white. Someone might be helpful because he/she genuinely wants to help people but that doesn’t mean he/she shouldn’t expect appreciation.