It Is Wrong To Feed The Dog Chocolate

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 7.236% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

If someone was feeding their dog chocolate, I’d tell them they were wrong to do so. Mainly because chocolate will kill a dog.
Note that they do not have to be aware of the doggie deadliness of chocolate in order to be wrong about this. The dog will be just as sick, even if they had no idea that chocolate would hurt poor Fido. They can do wrong and be completely oblivious to it until someone tells them otherwise.
Now, when I say someone’s “wrong” to give that Hershey’s to the begging puppy, I’m making some large assumptions – mainly, that they enjoy the dog and wish to keep it alive. If their goal is to hurt a dog, then feeding chocolate is the absolute right thing to do, as is to stop reading me forever because I’ll hurt you if that’s your goal. But regardless, I’m just sort of assuming that the well-being of the dog is mixed in to whatever they’re trying to do.
Now, I got a fair amount of pushback on my entry on the messy girlfriend and the boyfriend who had yet to tell her how stressed out all her clutter was making him feel, mainly from folks saying, “He didn’t tell her! She’s not wrong, just ill-informed.”
No. I’m assuming that her goal is “to stay in a long-term relationship with her boyfriend,” and if so, then cluttering the house is hurting their relationship. It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t mean to do that, or that she has no clue that she’s doing it; as I said, intent is not a magic wand. You can feed the dog chocolate and totally intend to give the dog a treat, but the dog’s still hurt. And her clutter is making her partner feel threatened and bad.
Now, assuming her boyfriend’s goal is also “to stay in a long-term relationship,” then he’s also wrong for not telling her, “Hey, this really bugs me to the point where it’s starting to interfere with my happiness,” because it’s not gonna go well if he hides his feelings all the time and doesn’t give her proper feedback. But that’s not really my point here.
My point is that “not knowing she’s doing a bad thing” doesn’t make her behaviors correct. If I’m deep in a programming problem and Gini interrupts me, I may be snappish and hurt her feelings without even realizing it. In that case, I’m wrong. If I’m trying to fix a water heater and shut off all the valves so it builds up to a fatal explosive pressure, I’m wrong to do so even if I have no idea how harmful that is.
You can be wrong without being aware you’re wrong – in fact, that is usually the case.
And of course many people will tell me that I’m wrong, because the proper word is not “wrong” but some other term like “incorrect” or “mistake” or “at fault” or some other term. And the problem is that there is no universally-accepted word for “doing something dangerously harmful to your goals, but unintentionally.” Trust me. I’ve been blogging on relationships for years. If I’d used the term you’d suggested, some other person would have kicked up a fuss because I didn’t use their term, or thought the term I did use was unclear… mainly because too many people link “bad thing” with “awareness” as though you can’t hurt anyone until you know what it is you’re doing.
What’s important, however, is that you understand the concept: “You do not need to be aware of your mistake to be making a large mistake.” You can feed the dog chocolate. Your intent will not help the dog survive. And that behavior is, for whatever term you choose to use, very much at odds with what you probably want to have happen.

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