Everyone knows a similar story to this, but here is how most people think of when we use the word Karma:
“I sat at a table of friends as one relayed her experience with road rage. She told how she absent-mindedly merged into traffic and almost hit an oncoming car. The driver of said car then lashed out with a tirade of abuse and obscenity. Once the traffic cleared the car sped past her, still yelling abuse. Funnily enough, a few minutes later my friend noticed the abusive driver pulled over by highway patrol.”
We like that ‘kind’ of karma. The idea that when people act like morons, they will get some justice.
Here is the thing though, Karma is by one definition, “the force created by a person's actions that some people believe causes good or bad things to happen to that person”
I think the story above is more about justice, not about bad or good actions. See, if it was karma that we want in this story, should the girl get pulled over? After all, OPP says distracted driving related deaths are poised to double those of impaired driving. So, wouldn't karma be that she gets the ticket? Especially if you were the driver in the car she almost hit! What would karma be for you then? Is his craziness justified? No. But we all wish people would be more considerate while driving. In fact, the number people that commute is now more than ever and so is their stress levels. Check out this article if you want to read about the stresses of commuting:
So is the mans anger ‘justified’? What is karma here? Does karma weigh which is the best for everyone and then decide to act? Does it give select justice? Are we all under this force? What happens when karma doesn't ‘act’?
The problem with karma or ‘what goes around, comes around” is it falls short of understanding people or being empathetic. It is situational at best. It is not something to live by or to trust in. It is random acts that we think is some force controlling everything and to be honest it doesn't always work.
The ‘golden rule’ is pretty simple, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you” (Matthew 7:12) and I think most people don’t even know that this comes from the bible. It is not karma, it is other-centeredness. It is putting yourself in someone else's shoes, evaluating your motives and asking yourself, “is how I am acting, is what I am saying, is what I am doing; things I would like done to me”
But in the moment, we often don’t think about others or how we liked being treated.
If you take a few minutes to look up an old interview with Bono, you will find one called ‘grace vs karma’. It is a good one! Here is a bit from it;
Interviewer: I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?
Bono: Yes, I think that's normal. It's a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.
Interviewer: I haven't heard you talk about that.
Bono: I really believe we've moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.
Interviewer: Well, that doesn't make it clearer for me.
Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics—in physical laws—every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It's clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I'm absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that "as you reap, so you will sow" stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff.
Interviewer: I'd be interested to hear that.
Bono: That's between me and God. But I'd be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I'd be in deep s$)@. It doesn't excuse my mistakes, but I'm holding out for Grace. I'm holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don't have to depend on my own religiosity.
Interviewer: The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.
Bono: But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there's a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let's face it, you're not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That's the point. It should keep us humbled… . It's not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.
What is grace for you? or would you rather karma?
the story continues…