Forgiveness, Vengeance, and Karma

Let me start you off with a quote:

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” ~Gandhi

I think I can speak for everybody when I tell my story. I have lived a life full of challenges where the odds have been against me in so many ways, which you can read about from my last post. But in addition to my circumstantial challenges, I have also met a lot of people who have hurt me, double-crossed me, and stabbed me in the back. Some of the insecurities and moments of doubt I have about myself can be attributed to a certain few people who seriously did, or tried really hard to, ruin my life.

Yet, in the face of all these hurdles, I have still learned to forgive those people.

I will honestly say, as an agnostic, I do not fully understand religion of any kind. Though I was brought to a few different types of churches as a child, there were a lot of things that I didn’t, and probably won’t ever, understand. But one of the messages I took away from going to church as a kid was who Jesus really was.

I’m not talking about who different people identify him as, I am talking about who Jesus was solely as a person. Jesus forgave. Plain and simple. Even in the face adversity, having to deal with literally thousands of people who thought he was a raving lunatic, he never held a grudge. Even as he had nails plunged through his palms and feet, he still was forgiving.

Now, for a country that boasts that more than 75% of its citizens identify as Christian, I fail to see the message of forgiveness actually being carried out among our society. Instead, I’ve seen it more in the way that I approached history classes as a kid. I sat through class, listened to the lectures, took notes and memorized all the important parts. But when it came to using it in real life, I couldn’t spout out a thing because I didn’t feel it was important enough.

When Osama bin Laden was killed last month, I saw exactly what I’m talking about played out. I witnessed comments on articles and posts on Facebook, all rejoicing in the death of a human being. I realized that we are living in a society not of forgiveness, but of vengeance. Whether on the national level, or down to the individual level, we live among people who condone celebration on behalf of someone else’s death.

Now, do I believe bin Laden had it coming? Absolutely. But not for the same reasons as so many other people.

One of the many lessons my mother taught me was what goes around, comes around. It’s called karma, and whether or not you believe in this concept, it is something you should take into consideration when going about your daily life. The concept is simple: if you do good for someone, good will come back to you. If you do bad against someone, that will also come back to you, sometimes worse. This is the philosophy around which I have based my life and everything I do.

We cannot continue to live in a society of vengeance, because no good will come of it. Sure, vengeance feels good, but at what cost? Most of the time, vengeance requires us to go out of our way to go “return the favor.” In the time that it takes for us to get back at our adversaries, we could have spent that time doing good things for other people, and generating good karma.

Bin Laden’s death at the hands of our military was his karmic return. For the pain and suffering he caused not only for Americans, but for people all over the world, he got his. If the United States hadn’t done it, someone or something else would have done it. We waited nearly ten years for it to happen, but it eventually did. We just needed to be patient, as we do with our individual lives. By simply letting go the people who have crossed us, they will eventually get theirs for the pain they cause us. It might not be immediate; we cannot expect karma to work immediately. We must be patient and have faith that those individuals with cruel intentions will see the error in the suffering they cause.

This is why I am encouraging everyone to consider their karmic contribution to our world. It doesn’t matter who you are or what religion you claim, your words and actions have an effect on the rest of the world and yourself. If Mohandas Gandhi, a follower of Hinduism, and Jesus Christ can agree on the same concept of forgiveness and nonviolence, then so can the rest of us.

It’s time to take this seriously. We are losing our sense of other-ness and it is ruining our society. Vengeance has only ever cause the need for more vengeance.

It’s time to forgive.

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3 thoughts on “Forgiveness, Vengeance, and Karma

  1. Karen says:

    wow Nick. This is very enlightening. I felt the same way as I watched the rallies on TV the night Osama Bin Laden was killed. You are a very strong person.

  2. […] for our veterans, we need to stop condoning the death of others just because they are different. Celebrating death does not make us bigger men; it makes us […]

  3. […] states, I try to be as nice to everybody as I can. I have previously written on the importance of generating good karma, and loving thy neighbor. The first fifteen years of my life consisted of growing up in an […]

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