Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Thursday, March 29, 2012


This started from a comment on another post but I felt like it could almost be its own complete post. First I was going to call it AGAINST KARMA.

Then I thought, that's too tilted in one direction. Then I was going to go with calling it The Karma Of Victim Blaming. Which is spot on! But others may have other ideas of karma, that are less focused on that one aspect and perhaps, more positive!

So I went with KARMA SUCKS.

Then I edited it to "karma." Nice and simple.

Anyway, it all picked up from this idea about victim blaming, and the mechanisms by which victim blaming is justified, and that got me thinking about karma.

In a word, "karma." Of course, karma is harmless! As long as by "karma" you just mean you can learn a lesson when something bad happens to you, because you look back and realize how others felt when you did the same thing. And you say to yourself, "well, THAT'S karma!" But really, dude: no. That's not what most people think about when they say "karma." That's just the realization that maybe you, too, were and have been and perhaps are, a dick. That sudden slap of sympathy, retroactive. Nothing cosmic about it.

Most people don't use karma in that sense. By karma, most people seem to be naming some force that ensures those richly-deserving will become victims. They speak of this as if they are talking about a beautiful, enlightened, spiritual principle. What!? To me it seems like simple wish-fulfillment vindictiveness. And more than a little petty, more than a little vicious. The idea that the universe shares our idea of what sucks, and will punish people based on our idea of what they did wrong. This too seems quite far from cosmic.

There's a million mechanisms people might suggest to explain how karma works, but whether you think the universe or God or some other cosmic or spiritual force is behind it, the idea is essentially pretty similar. People who believe in karma believe that somehow, perhaps in some way none of us can fully trace or understand, reward and punishment are triggered upon the deserving, in this world. Understanding how isn't important - what's important is the confidence that it works, that that karma check is in the mail. So that when the person so richly deserving of punishment glides by unscathed with us bleeding in their wake, we comfort ourselves: "OH BOY! They'll get theirs!"

Yeah, well maybe they'll get something. But it won't have a thing to do with what they just did to you. Unless of course, you personally take matters in hand! Not saying you should do that. I'm just asking, does it help to lie to yourself? They won't get theirs.

They won't get theirs from what they just did to you, not unless you give them theirs yourself. If they do get SOMETHING - the next bad shit that happens to them, well that plus the next bad shit that happens to you is already unrelatedly on the way. Bad shit happens to bad people, too you know. Bad shit happens to all of us. All the time. Bad shit is swinging through us all like a dotted-line scythe.

But the bad shit that happens to bad people didn't result from their bad - any more than the bad shit happening to good people did. Witness the many bad people who glide on unscathed and richly-rewarded 'til the day they die peacefully in their sleep, with wide grins! Some people luck out, and miss out on the worst of the random bad. But many good people do, too. A charmed life, if you can get it.

There's plenty of non-consequence bad that comes down purely at random. Random bad is a crapshoot that can hit us all, and doesn't care who's on which of Santa's lists. And consequential bad - that is something each of us has a chance to avoid! Consequences from bad action can occur, but those consequences tend to stem not so much from bad, as from stupid (notice karma seems to operate disproportionately against idiot criminals?). Willed bad - where a person of bad will picks you out to victimize - this can land on anyone as well, the weak more easily than the strong, but the victim is not the cause of the bad that befalls.

I say the idea of karma - the idea that suffering in this world is aimed, based on a person's goodness or badness - is a insult to every single person who suffers. It's a bald lie, a bad bill of goods. It tricks people into thinking they're safe when they're not, into thinking they'll be avenged when they won't. But worst of all it tricks people into thinking that maybe the person who just got it deserves it. That "somehow" "In the mysterious ways that it all balances out" - karma has hit them with aim. Bad shit to the deserving, so every victim must have done SOMETHING.

Hey, what if it doesn't mean that? What if karma's just bullshit? Does the world get better or worse, from that?

Better, I'd say. A damn sight better, in a world where a girl with cancer can't get told maybe it's because she was bad, just so you can comfort yourself that the asshole who just cut you to the core has another thing coming.

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