Sunday, 7 October 2012

I'm still learning

They say the only constant is change, and there's none so obvious as for those working in the modern media. However, old dogs can learn new tricks, and a few years ago our local paper introduced a Texts to the Editor column.

It's not a place for informed debate or 200-word letters, it's a forum where people can sound off in a clever or not-so-clever one-liner. They really do make interesting reading, and I've learned some stuff.

For example, hardly a week goes by without someone texting about their bike being stolen, or their pet being run over, and the texter ends with something along the lines of "You are disgusting. Karma will get you," or "Shame on you! Karma will get you!"

And from a short search on Google and Wikipedia, I can see there's more to the principle than that, but the common perception seems to be that:
    • Someone does something bad to me; so
    • I hope bad stuff happens to them...
In other words, you are gonna get yours! You'll pay! I don't know who you are, but Karma's gonna get my revenge, it's gonna nail you on my behalf. "Karma's gonna get you!"

I can see at least two difficulties with that line of thinking:
1. If the bad guy always gets what he deserves, then it must follow that you also deserved what they just did to you. That's right, you deserved to have your cat run over. You really think so? And the kid who's got cancer, they deserved it too, right?
I can see how this argument might apply if you believe in reincarnation, but I don't. Hebrews tells us that Man has just one appointment with death, and then there's a judgement. There is therefore only one person who has to face the consequences for your decisions - You. The kid who gets cancer did NOT deserve it from a former life.
and 2. If the bad guy deserves a bad future for doing bad stuff to you, then you also deserve a bad future for wishing a bad future on them. [ Go on, read it twice, I did J ] So, in wishing them harm, you're bringing harm on yourself. Doesn't seem such a great idea, does it?
And yes, I realise the texts are written out of a sense of hurt and injustice, and at times helplessness, but is revenge really the answer? How does it help us to wish a negative on the bad guy? Is that the sort of justice we expect for ourselves when we hurt or offend someone else? even if it's accidental?

It's interesting to note that, in talking about our response to offences and enemies and bad stuff, Jesus said that his Father "makes His sun rise on the evil AND on the good, and sends rain on the just AND on the unjust." It's a tough model to follow, who said Christians were wimps?

The good news is that God is good, and each of us can avoid the punishment we so richly deserve. The proviso is that we need to forgive those who have hurt us and deserve to be punished. Some folks call it grace.

I know, we've all struggled at times with the reality that bad stuff happens to good people, and it seems unfair when good things happen to bad people. But given the fact that both you and I are just a little bit bad, isn't that a good thing?

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