The Co-Opting Of “Karma”

I want to put it right out there that I have not read the Bhagavad Gita. I am not an expert on karma, whether it is the Hindu vision of it, the Buddhist vision of it, or the Granola Chomping, New Agey, Buddha-Lite vision of it. I have read here and there, I listen,  and I pay attention. To my understanding, and please, actual experts on it correct me if I am wrong, it is not some tit for tat, good for bad exchange. It is not, at least not strictly, a means of correcting bad deeds with good and keeping some sort of cosmic check book.

I have been led to believe that it is more of an overall balance thing. Peace for violence, hate for love, contentment for want and all that. It is not, if I am right, a one for one equation. It is not suggesting you will experience violence if you engage in it, though you may. It is about the universe creating peace where you have created violence. It is about harmony. I am not certain I actually believe any vision of it, but this is just what I have learned from my inquiries and the reading I have done. Overall it seems like a nice concept though.

Which is why it makes me sad when I see so many people, including some, maybe even many, who claim to be people of peace, finding solace in the idea that karma will somehow come around and kick someone in the ass for them. Even if these other people did do wrong, would you not rather see the wrong corrected, preferably by their hand, to balance the scales? How does more pain erase the harm that has been done?

I sometimes worry about us. I mean, I know I come off all happy hippy sometimes, at least in my writing (those who know me IRL will laugh at this) but I watch people and they make it hard to maintain it. It is like they prefer the instant gratification that schadenfreude will provide them to actual healing and hope. They give in to their savage need to hurt the other, even if they are not holding the club without seeing this just keeps the cycle of negativity going.

Please do not take this to mean we should never call out those doing harm. No one should get a free pass to inflict on others whatever they will to get what they want. That includes more passive forms of harm such as willful ignorance of how your privilege keeps others oppressed. The scales cannot be balanced if we are unaware that they are out of whack.

I have to question your devotion to harmony, though, if your idea of it is putting more weight on the violence end of the scale. Make no mistake, wishing harm on another is violence. Wanting to see an officer who rapes a trans woman incarcerated and denied employment in law enforcement again is harmony. Saying his kid died because of karma is violence. You do harm, not just to him, but to all of us, and worse, to yourself when you celebrate that.  You take a beautiful idea, and turn it to so much wet and nasty ash, much like the conservative Christians you are so quick to wave a finger at.  Contemplate this the next time you feel the rage in your heart getting the better of you.


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