I’ve been thinking about some things that I have not yet figured out how to articulate in a way I think is sufficient. That never stopped me before so here goes:
We all know we (I’m speaking to Christians here) don’t believe in Karma. We talk about grace all the time as a gift that we never earned. Ask us any question about grace and merit and we know the answers.
My oldest son has grown taller than I am in the last two years. He was taller than me even when he wasn’t a teenager. And we (and others) often spontaneously say to him, “Wow, you are tall!” And he grins and smiles and is obviously proud of it, like it somehow reflects his efforts. His character.
I’m not blaming him. He knows better at one level. But do any of us know better? Does anyone who is tall or beautiful or smart not believe at some level that they made themselves that way?
Think about the whole cult of “everyone can be whatever they want.” Who sells that story? The people who got what they want, who got to be what they want to be.
And what do they tell others? That anyone can do it. That everyone has this potential, but they have to do whatever virtuous deeds the successful people have done in order to get there.
But, obviously, it is completely in the interests of those who have power, privilege, possessions to claim that they somehow acheived these things. Every society in every different economic system has always had people on top and those people have virtually always claimed that this was due to their own virtue. It is the ultimate self-justification.
But meet someone whose face was scarred as a child or who didn’t have any number of the myriad of advantages of the few… Or meet the many who tried just as hard or harder than the successful yet never found success. David Boreanz became a famous actor because someone spotted him walking a dog. Of course, he did move to Hollywood with hopes. And he did probably many other things beside look good. But do you think for a minute there are not thousands who did all the same things and got missed?
For everyone who visibly ends up on top, there are a hundred or more who are commensurate in every way who don’t.
And even worse, for all the “normals” out there with their families and there children there are the (hopefully few) haunted marginalized who didn’t make it. The ones who couldn’t have children and never could adopt. The one who married a spouse that became deranged in some way and ended the suburban prosperity dream of the partner.
I have never known anyone well, who went through horrible circumstances, who didn’t somehow blame themselves or feel ashamed for what they were going through. Like for some reason they shouldn’t look others in the eye. Maybe some never do this, but I haven’t run into such a person. It becomes an imperative to say, This isn’t your fault. This doesn’t make you worthless. You didn’t do this to yourself.
Yes, I’m aware that some people destroy themselves. They do. Almost always by doing deeds that others are able to get away with somehow. And how long does someone have to add to their miseries by flagellating themselves for a sin? What is the point of denying the need to do penance if someone is led to interpret their poverty or bereavement as penance for what they did?
“Was this man born blind because of his sin or his parents’ sin?”
And what do the normals do? They attribute their normality to themselves. But it is, humanly speaking, all statistics. They have no idea what they would be like, what their personalities would be like, the kind of voice they would have when they talked to themselves late on a sleepless night, if God had put diseases, or job loss, or dead children in their path instead of the health and wealth they have. Not one realizes the person he or she would be.
No one thinks they’re ambitious for expecting the status quo in their lives. It is only when they have it taken away from them that they suddenly realize that they are. No one thinks his posture toward life, his self-confidence in what he does, his self-respect, is something that could have been obliterated long ago. And they wonder why other people don’t have that. And figure that their lack must be the reason they haven’t achieved more. Reversing cause and effect is the chief strategy for inventing a theory of karma.
The entire situation produces the Leftisms of the world. Because if the status quo is such a right, then those left out of it, must have been robbed. And so a theory of injustice is invented. The myth of free market utopia creates the myth of communist justice.
What happens if I am put into normalcy again? Do I forget everything I’ve learned? Seems likely since I still don’t think I know how to explain what I’ve learned. God help me.