People usually aren’t that surprised to learn I’m an older sister. I tend to give off Type A vibes and even if I’m the drunkest person in the room, I’m still the quickest to sober up and help someone who’s in a worse state of mind than I am. What does surprise people is the amount of siblings I have – a whopping five. I have three not-so-little brothers and two not-so-little sisters and we’re all stair-stacked in age – 25, 23, 20, 18, 14, and 12. We all have severely different personalities, but within the differences obviously there are some defining traits that unify us as siblings. We all have a sharp tongue, zero patience for stupid questions, and we’re all incredibly selective about who we let get close to us.
So with us having severely different personalities yet a similar approach to people in terms of being guarded and slightly aggressive, you can imagine how intense some conversations can get within the Smith Clan.
Most recently I had a crazy theological discussion/debate with my 20 year old brother, Jackson. Now, as some background, Jack has a photographic memory, his head is full of the most random knowledge of the most intricate of things, we joke that a conversation with him is “Jack Jeopardy“. He’s an actor who’s been on stage since he was in elementary, which has empowered him to have a great speaking voice and everything he says is laced with such a projected conviction that you feel no need to dispute him half of the time as he seems as reputable as Wikipedia.
Jack has always had a rampant imagination that has him questioning every basic level thing most take for granted, which somehow transcended through age into him being able to have long conversations with anyone about anything – even on topics he genuinely knows nothing about. He knows how to ask those thought provoking questions that push the conversations along through twists and turns you hadn’t originally intended.
It was the other day when Jack and I somehow had a conversation about beliefs and Christianity that morphed into the power of karma. I am a firm believer that what goes around comes around, karma is real and you can’t convince me otherwise. Jack on the other hand, strongly argues that karma is interpreted completely wrong this day and age. He insists that karma isn’t about instant just consequences, the idea of karma transcends lifetimes and what you do in this life, affects your next life, and what you experience now is a product of your past life. So with Jack’s definition of karma, he doesn’t think that karma is enough in terms of punishment, because if someone does something bad in this lifetime, they won’t reap the effects of it until their next lifetime, and what’s the good in that?
These two ideologies of karma, one with rapid consequences and one with not so rapid consequences, is what lead to the big debate: Let go and let karma?
Jack will tell you…
Heck, no. Karma isn’t real, and if it is how could you possibly trust karma to take care of someone that has done serious wrongs, like Henry Kissinger? He is a man who should be charged with war crimes, but he won’t ever get punished for them. He should pay for the terrible things he has done, how can someone be as rich as him and also walk away unscathed from the bad he has done if karma is real? If karma is truly real, he would pay for these crimes, since what goes around comes around. Furthermore, if karma is real, it is not enough of a punishment, karma is nothing more than an excuse for societal inaction. Individuals need to take onus, for we are responsible for our own reality, delivering justice where justice is due, and we should not leave the fate of terrible people up to the universe.
To that I say…
It’s complicated. While I am a firm believer in karma, I fullheartedly agree that we are responsible for our own reality. These two things, karma and onus, coincide for me in that I don’t believe in always handing the reigns over to karma. Not at all. If you are presented with a situation where there is an obvious bad party involved, follow the below procedure:
The are two very different endings to the above, you’re either letting go or you’re actively trying to correct the situation. For the sake of the conversation, Jack heavily focused on Henry Kissinger being a prime example of how karma isn’t real or isn’t enough. But if you’re a believer in karma you’ll understand the following:
Karma is not always obvious.
It is very easy to think that wealthy people couldn’t possibly ever reap the effects of karma because they have so much money to ward it off. But karma wouldn’t get to someone in a way that isn’t right for them, karma isn’t going to come at the rich by attempting to drain their bank account dry with broken down car after broken down car.
Karma comes at each individual appropriately.
Maybe Henry Kissinger will never know true happiness, maybe none of his friends are real, maybe most people in his closest circle hate his guts. You can’t tell me little things like that aren’t micro acts of karma coming to play. So if you can sit back and let karma do its thing, then it’s better to think in this mentality, that karma is not in the big things, it’s in in the little things. Just as the little things can bring you happiness, the little things can also pile up and crush you down.
Sometimes, karma needs a hand.
Back to Henry Kissinger, I know, I know, it’s random but so is my brother so this is where the conversation went. Jack says karma is an excuse for societal inaction – if this is the case, then honestly, be the change you wish to see. What can you do to make Henry Kissinger uncomfortable? Email him, send him letters of everything he’s done wrong and that which makes him a war criminal in your eyes. Batter him with reminders of his wrongdoings. Be the bell constantly ringing in his ear.
There’s always something you can do.
So this translates into other areas of life, if someone in your work or personal life has done something that’s simply wrong – think about your options and how you can right the wrong, whether it’s a direct conversation with them calling them out, or maybe the wrong is deeper than that and a higher entity needs to get involved – do what is right. This is also where karma becomes a bit self-serving, when you’re righting the wrongs of others for a greater purpose, you are also bringing good karma upon yourself. What goes around comes around, remember?
. . .
Ultimately, it’s up to you whether you let go and let karma. While I personally believe in the power of karma, and have very much seen it rear its head and kick dirt into the face of those most deserving, some people haven’t seen it and/or simply don’t believe in it – like my brother. While, him and I were able to have this insane discussion on karma, the funny thing is… he really doesn’t believe in it at all. Not one bit – even what he described karma to be, he doesn’t believe in that either. But he is able to see how others can believe, and is able to have a conducive conversation about it in order to better understand the world and those that live in it.