Friday, February 13, 2015

Karma Comedian

According to The Daily Mail, Shirley MacLaine suggests there may be a good reason those millions of Jews died in the Holocaust:

In her memoir, the 80-year-old, who won an Oscar for Terms Of Endearment, writes: ‘What if most Holocaust victims were balancing their karma from ages before, when they were Roman soldiers putting Christians to death, the Crusaders who murdered millions in the name of Christianity, soldiers with Hannibal, or those who stormed across the Near East with Alexander? The energy of killing is endless and will be experienced by the killer and the killee.’

I don't feel the need to express outrage since there are plenty already doing it, and besides, no one takes MacLaine seriously.

But plenty of people do take the idea of karma seriously. (By karma, I mean its popular understanding--I don't claim to have studied the concept.) And it's always presented serious problems, which MacLaine so successfully illustrates.

Because if the universe (or any other source) is dolling out punishments and rewards for what we do (let's not ask how this mechanism works), then that doesn't leave much room for human volition.  If someone is suffering, why should you care--she's just paying off her karmic debt.  Indeed, if you're sending someone to a death camp, why should you be judged harshly--it's just a debt being collected that has to be paid off one way or another.

With karma-accounting, you're in the position you're in for a reason, even though you're living without memories of what someone else (okay, it's you, but it might as well be someone else) did that's causing your situation.  And it's hard to hold anyone responsible for anything they do.  Why should any group suffer bad karma just because they were punishing people who were meant to be punished.  If they're responsible for doing what had to be done, then they'll be punished in the future and you'll get this endless loop.

MacLaine apparently doesn't have any trouble with this system.  I suppose her solution is everyone spread love, but even if it were that easy, I want to spend a few generations making sure the people who deserve it get it; I want to balance their karma--it's the loving thing to do.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There seems to be an easier way to think of karma than that. Something along the lines of over time, everything regresses to the mean so it creates the notion that there some sort of cosmic weighing of the scales I guess.

1:17 PM, February 13, 2015  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Perhaps, but "regression to the mean" isn't the kind of thing that gets people excited, religiously or otherwise. They much prefer a magical cosmic apparatus that dispenses just desserts.

Anyway, how can regression to the mean compare with "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice"?

1:30 PM, February 13, 2015  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's just hope stated in a funny and has driven human development since the get go. (Of course everyone has their different ideas of justice)

4:18 AM, February 14, 2015  

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