Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Why I Don't Believe in Karma

Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook would probably have read that I've had an unfortunate past few weeks. A lot of irritating things have gone wrong and, while I've got to be thankful that nothing majorly terrible has happened, it has certainly been a test all the same. Here is a list of what went wrong:
  • Sleepness nights - Yep, for the past few weeks I've taken ages to get to sleep and then I keep waking up every hour or so. This has frustrated me to the point of tears because it brings back horrible memories of February 2008, two months before the wedding, when I turned nocturnal. Basically, something similar has happened again; I can sleep fine during the day, but struggle with insomnia at night. I cannot think of a reason for this. It has been suggested to me that I must be stressed and worried, but apart from my new job and Christmas busyness, I can't think of a concrete reason for my slumber difficulties. The end result is that I'm weary, cranky and dependent on caffeine. Sometimes I think I'm turning into an owl!
  • Flat tyre - In all my years of driving, I've never had a flat and I really don't know how to change one. It's horrible having one out here because there's no RAC that can pick you up in any decent time. Fortunately, a friend of ours was nearby when it happened and he changed it for me. BUT I still had to pay for a new tyre because I drove on it briefly (yes, I know...STUPID).
  • Lost wedding ring - I put it, along with my other jewellery, into my bag while I was at fitness class and froze when I realised it wasn't there. What I didn't know was that my bag had a tear in it and it had fallen into another compartment. Thank goodness!
  • Bashed by a bin lid - While I was at work, I noticed that one of our green wheely bins had blown over in the wind and there was rubbish everywhere. I retrieved the stray rubbish, lifted the bin back onto its wheels and shut the lid but, before I could get out of the way, the lid flew backwards and smacked me right in the face. I was a bit lightheaded for a while but fortunately there were no bruises or marks on my face.
  • Dry, scaly face - My face started drying out and the skin started peeling. It felt tight and uncomfortable. It started at my chin and then dryness/peeling crept up to my nose and just below my eyes. I have no idea what caused it, but I bought some QV Body Moisturiser (which is for extremely dry skin) and now it's pretty much back to normal.
  • Suicidal galahs attacked my car - I was driving home from work last Monday when three galahs flew straight into my windscreen, scaring the crap out of me and leaving a long crack in my windscreen almost from top to bottom. This happened only a few months after I'd got a new, free windscreen courtesy of my insurance policy. The car is not drivable at the moment but I have to take it to Perth this Friday to cough up several hundred dollars for a new windscreen. Bah!

Some of my Facebook friends have suggested that bad Karma is the result of my misfortune and it seems that they sincerely believe in Karma and not just as a figure of speech. I have several issues with Karma. My understanding of it is 'what goes around, comes around'; if you do good, you will have good done to you and likewise for bad deeds. My experience of life in just 26 years on this earth is that some things cannot be explained by Karma, and that it is offensive to suggest that people are suffering because of bad things they have done. What about people suffering from earthquakes, floods, famine and tsunamis? Is Victoria Australia's most evil state and therefore they deserved to suffer from the February bushfires? Not only are such things hurtful, they are plain untrue. And if Karma was true, then we are all screwed. All of us have done sinful things in word, thought and deed and therefore deserve some bad Karma. Also, if we're only doing good deeds so we can get 'good Karma', then it makes the motivation for such deeds rather selfish, if we give only for what we may get in return.

Karma also offers people a false sense of justice. In October 2005, I had a car accident while driving with one of my friends. We were driving to the video store to return a faulty video when a car came through a red light, smashed into us, causing $9000 worth of damage to my car and then drove off and left me there. Fortunately, we were not injured, apart from whiplash and shock, but I was without a car for over a month and since nobody got the full number plate of the other car, they were never caught. I had to pay $600 worth of excess and I was cautioned for the accident, even though it was not my fault. A witness provided six out of the seven digits of the number plate but the police said they could not trace it. This smelt dodgy because a friend of my family used to work for the Licensing Department and he told us as long as they had the first digit (which they did) they could trace it. I was left with a nasty taste of injustice. When I told the massage lady at Curtin about what had happened, she told me the person who had caused the accident would get 'bad Karma' as a result. I told her politely that I did not expect the person to get what they deserved in this lifetime. It's true, isn't it? People can do horrible things in life and just get away with it. There is no guarantee they will get 'bad Karma'.

When bad things to happen to us, the natural question seems to be, "What have I done to deserve this?" Karma seems to creep into Christianity in subtle ways. I have heard some people say this about singleness, incorrectly assuming that a single person is single because of something they've done. Job's friends are similarly unhelpful when they suggest to Job that he is suffering because of sin. Jesus' disciples ask him this question when they see a blind man.
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
"Neither this man nor his parents sinned,"
said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." - John 9:1-3
We have had a visiting speaker at church coming up once a month and, in the light of recent natural disasters, has been doing a series on suffering. It has been good to think about these things.

I believe in a God of both justice and mercy; a God who sees all the deeds we do in the flesh and will one day call everyone to account. While sin is not always devoid of consequences, nor can every misfortune be explained as a punishment for sin. Yet, the thought of we sinful humans coming before a holy God should cause us to tremble more than the fear of bad Karma. As Bono says, "I'd be in big trouble if Karma were going to finally be my judge. It doesn't excuse my mistakes but I'm holding out for grace." The God I follow not only upholds justice, he extends grace to his rebellious people. And he does this by taking the punishment we deserve upon himself, in the person of Jesus.


Iris Flavia said...

Oh. My.!!!
What a list!
Have the first one regularly, too. Every hour. Until (!) the last one, there I fall asleep and wake totally groggy.
You got the Wedding-Ring, right?
Sorry for the bin lid, oh-eek-my, left me with a desperate smile (sitting here in warm, dry, cleanliness)
Hope your skin gets better soon...

Karma. Nah. Rather go for Murphy! In that I do believe in plain coincidence/what you say bout floods and all, Karma... nah.

Hope good times are on your way and Murphy moves on (not to me though ;-) !!!)

Sarah said...

Yeah I did find my wedding ring thankfully. Skin is a lot better too :)

Jillian said...

A great post Sarah. Karma seems to be inflitrating the way we think. We forget what God promises - justice, judgement and mercy, and we also forget that most of God's judgement is suspended, due to the work of Christ, but not all of it is. God is soverign of all things and therefore continues to bless and punish us (continues to discipline us) throughout this life too. Having just gone through Micah again, its interesting to see how God uses the Assyrians or the politics of the day to accomplish His will. Just because He doesn't strike someone down - like Annanias and Sapphira, doesn't mean that we don't experience God's judgement in our present age.
Sorry - this seems a bit negative, but between Micah and doing 2W2L it's been on my mind a bit.

Sarah said...

I think I'm most tempted to Karma-like is when I've been hurt by someone and then I see a lot of things going wrong for them in life. It's easy to think, "Ha, God's punishing you for what you did to me!". Maybe he is, maybe he isn't, I don't know. All I know is that i shouldn't be tempted to gloat.