I have always been highly skeptical of anything that gives human beings comfort. Things that give us comfort tend not to be based on rational thinking and often have no basis in reality. We use stories and superstition to help us cope in a universe that in harsh and indifferent. I get that. More often than not though, these beliefs, and the comfort we gain from them, only make life harder in the long run.
One area this can be seen in is the belief in karma, the belief that whatever you do comes back to you. The belief that we all reap what we sow. The belief that what goes around comes around. This thinking can be seen in religion as the belief that your actions will decide what happens to you in the afterlife, such as, whether you go to heaven or hell. It comes from the Buddhist belief that what you do in this life determines what you will become in your future reincarnations.
We believe this because the knowledge that there is no cosmic justice system makes us feel alone and unimportant. We believe this because knowing that people can treat others badly and feel no consequences just hurts too much. Our minds cannot conceive of a life of suffering that serves no greater purpose. Even without purpose we cannot believe that bad things can happen to good people and no thing is there to level it all out. For us, our deeds must be seen, and the good rewarded, and the bad punished.
These beliefs appear harmless on the surface but they can actually be very dangerous. If we think that a higher power will punish all the bad people we will never right the wrongs we see around us. Human suffering can never be eased with this mindset. We will never lift a finger to change anything if we keep thinking the responsibility doesn’t lie with us.
If you are someone who believes in karma, I challenge you to imagine, what if it isn’t true? What if bad people live a good life and nothing and no one ever makes them pay for their crimes? What if really bad things happen to good people every single day and nothing will change because no one cares? Sure makes it seem like it’s up to each of us to right the wrongs in place of that grand scale of justice, right?
Believing in karma makes it easy for us to do nothing. We believe we don’t have to because the universe is on “set it and forget it” and the rights and wrongs will all come out even in the end. This is an incredibly privileged belief to hold. If you have the luxury of thinking everything will work itself out you do not have very big problems.
Where is karma for the starving children? Where is karma for the women forced to marry or work in deplorable situations? When exactly does Karma kick in? How many times have you seen a wrong and said to yourself “It’s ok, they’ll get what’s coming to them.” as you turned your eyes away? It was all so easy wasn’t it? How convenient that you need not even lift a finger because the forces of the universe conspire to level the field?
If that is how you feel, stop it right now. We have to take responsibility for the wrongs we do nothing to right. Allow yourself to be appalled at the audacity of people who will treat other badly and enjoy it. Allow yourself to feel a duty to help those who are being oppressed. Take off the blinders, stop letting yourself be ignorant, and place the blame where it belongs, on all of us.
There are a ton of assholes all over the world who live quite happy lives treating others as a means to their own ends. Good people suffer and die and no one ever helps because those assholes know that you think it’s all coming back around.
They know it isn’t, and you ought to know it too.
When you see a wrong, say something, do something, because it is up to you, and all we have is now. It is up to each of us to ease the suffering of those around us. Don’t let you peace be one that comes from shirking responsibility. Find peace in making a difference.
Bad people will never change unless we make them. See someone being bullied by a coworker, speak up. See someone treating their spouse like crap, or a parent being a dick to their kid, say something. Hear about a dictator in another country condoning rape and murder, raise some awareness, call a congressman, give some money. Do something.
Fuck minding your own business and fuck that cosmic justice crap.
Do what you can, when you can, because no one else will, least of all the planets and the stars.