Karma – what’s in it for me?

Today, someone was extremely rude to me. Understandably, I am hurt and angry. I didn’t try to, er, return the compliment. But this post is not about my desire or ability to be rude. No, this post is about musing what might constitute fair restitution for all manner of hurts, particularly those cases where there is a clear distinction between the injured party and the party to blame. The way I see it, I have the following options:
– swear
– curse, or wish upon this person anything from a flat tire to a mosquito bite.
– do nothing, but take comfort from the belief that some mysterious accountant in the sky (or is it below ground? My Hindu mythology’s a little rusty) will update the karma accounts of all parties involved
– act noble

Option 1 may provide a temporary release, but really, it doesn’t do much else. So I won’t bother with it. The other three are worthy of deeper contemplation.

Option 2: Curse
While this offers a very tempting promise of quid pro quo, here’s why it is not a good enough option in the long run. Let’s say I wish this person had a flat tire, and some genie actually makes my wish come true. That still leaves too many questions unanswered. When will the flat tire happen? Today? Next week? Twenty years from now? And a mere flattening of a tire isn’t going to do anything for me. It has to be made clear to the rude person that the tire was flattened because he / she hurt someone (ok, moi). Otherwise, what’s the point? They’re going to think they’re the victim. OK, so that may be true, but they must realize why they’ve been singled out for victimization, right? In order for this to happen, retribution must be swift, and not take place a decade and a half after the initial act of rudeness.

There’s another aspect to the question of timing. Sure, I want rude person to be inconvenienced, but what if flat tire happens when he/she is rushing to the hospital to see / save a [dying] loved one? That would be terrible! Even I’m not such a monster… after all, only my ego was hurt – no damage to life or limbs occurred… So, maybe the curse idea isn’t such a good one. Moving on.

Option 3: do nothing, rely on Karma
This is my least favorite option. I am still not sure a 100% about the mechanics of Karma, possibly because I am a crass materialist. But being the crass materialist I am, this is my interpretation – Karma is like a bank account. Good karma dollars get put into your account if you behave well, and bad behavior takes your accumulated savings away. Of course, there is such a thing as a deal size, or in this case, a deed size – letting roomie watch game on superbowl weekend may be worth about 10 or so karma $. Actually sitting with said roomie and watching a game you neither understand nor like because you remember that the same football loving roomie watched Memoirs of a Geisha with you, that’s got to be worth at least a $ 1000, if not more.

But here’s what the problem is with having an account – money comes in, money goes out, and at some point you lose track of individual dollars, (unless one happens to be on some Interpol / FBI / SEC watch list for money laundering – and considering that I am neither Mother Theresa nor Saddam Hussein, my karma cash flows, whether positive or negative, are no where close to “laundering” status yet). So whether your boss suddenly goes on vacation or your car breaks down on the 635, you’re never sure what brought it on. So where’s the opportunity to learn? Sure, I could be “sensible” and try to only those things that I think will bring in the karma moolah, but really, let’s get real.

And the other thing about karma is that is too personalized. I only seem to have a direct say about what goes on with my own account. Causing minor emotional injury may cause rude person to lose a few dollars from his or her account, but what does that do for me? I can’t, for instance, say I want $9.99 taken from rude person’s account and put into mine. And even if we assume that I receive some form of compensation (that I got to write a post about it may be one for all I know), I’d really like to be able to choose my own compensation. Even if it’s a lousy choice, like the ones that Readers’ Digest gives you, I’d still like to be able to choose. If asked to choose between an idea for a new post, losing 0.2 pounds with no physical or mental exertion, and oh, something to day-dream about when am stuck watching that silly game on Sunday, I might want all three, but hey, at least I can grumble about life being unfair, pick one and move on. (and in case you’re wondering, I’d have picked losing 0.2 pounds. I watched “Aadhi” AND had the presence of mind to take notes AND I can survive a bunch of men in helmets chasing a ball with an identity crisis any day (it’s not a ball, for balls are round. It’s not an egg. What is it?) – but losing weight by doing nothing, now that’s an idea – ask any infomercial)

Conclusion: I don’t want to rely on an accounting system that seems to be almost as good as Enron’s.

Option 4: act noble
As you can see, through out this post I have taken great pains to raise the question “what’s in it for me?” in very many subtle and not so subtle ways. Acting noble (without the option of good karma) is clearly not an option to spend too much time thinking about. OK, I take that back. You can act noble, in cases when you’re confident it will drive the opposing party wild. In my case, and this particular rude person, I don’t think it’s going to work. As I know this person rather well, I know that the rude person is simply going to think I’m a prat and continue being rude.

One thousand words and counting. Still no answer to the original question “what constitutes fair restitution?” Now the question is what restitution would you want for having spent those precious minutes of your life reading this post? Think about it, and let me know. As soon as I receive mine, I’ll get by to thinking about yours.

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2 comments so far

  1. inlivenout on

    Well,I guess restitution is a crappy concept mainly becoz man never gets satisfied- he says “give me less” or “give me more” but never “I am glad with what I got”.

    Actually,hurt is another crappy concept.Its equivalent to a mosquito.Crush it in a millisecond or sit in the same place blaming the mosquito and get malaria 😉

  2. DoZ on

    inlivenout – Deep. But cribbing about Malaria is the whole point. As you say, man is never going to be happy, why not at least get some pleasure by playing the martyr and cribbing about it.–>


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