mad in pursuit journal

DISPATCHED FROM THE CROSSROADS, AT THE intersection OF vengeance and karma

Bad Karma

We finally watched "Munich." It deals with the aftermath of the slaughter of 11 athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Five Israelis are paid to hunt down and kill 11 members of Black September, the terrorist group responsible for the murders.

For a moment, it looked like it would a typical Hollywood "Western," where the righteous white hats bring justice back into the world by smiting the black hats. But I think 9/11 and especially Iraq have made us sadder but wiser. Old West hired guns, samurai, and make-my-day Dirty Harrys do not make the world a safer place. The more they wreak vengeance, the faster the bad guys are spawned.

Spielberg got into trouble for this movie. People accused him of being anti-Semitic and a "terrorist sympathizer." The film was not anti-American or anti-Israeli — it was anti-violence. It flew in the face of American/Western mythologies about violence being necessary to protect our righteous way of life.

Like Gandhi said: "An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind."

Yesterday I listened to V.V. Raman on Speaking of Faith. He is Professor Emeritus of Physics and Humanities at Rochester Institute of Technology. He talked a little about "karma."

From Wikipedia:

Karma is a word of ancient origin meaning action or activity and its subsequent results. It is commonly understood as a term to denote the entire cycle of cause and effect as described in the philosophies of a number of Dharmic Religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism.

Karma is a sum of all that an individual has done, is currently doing and will do. Individuals go through certain processes and accompanying experiences throughout their lives which they have chosen, and those would be based on the results of their own creations: "karma". Karma is not about retribution, vengeance, punishment or reward. Karma simply deals with what is. The effects of all deeds actively create past, present and future experiences, thus making one responsible for one's own life, and the pain and joy it brings to others. In religions that incorporate reincarnation, karma extends through one's present life and all past and future lives as well.

Karma seems like a useful concept for our times. Sooner or later, living by the sword means dying by the sword.


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