Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
Sir Isaac Newton.
My son recently introduced me to a YouTube channel which featured episodes labelled “Instant Karma”. There are a series of video clips showing people who are behaving badly getting their come uppence from the environment around them.
This “payback” element seems to fit with the common conception of karma. However this is not the whole story. On a simple level Karma can be seen as “If you behave badly/well then bad/good things will happen to you.” Such a world view would make a reasonable philosophy for living our lives.
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It is the nail that sticks up that gets hammered flat.
I was recently watching a programme commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World War. The programme showed clips of interviews with survivors of the Western Front, both British and German. One particular interview caught my interest, it concerned the 1914 Christmas Truce between the British Expeditionary Force and the German army along part of the Western Front in Belgium.
The now elderly, young British subaltern was still bemused, fifty years after the event, by a conversation that he had had with a young German officer.
While they were burying their dead, he had asked what the German was writing on a simple wooden cross. The German replied that he was writing “For Freedom” and “In the Sight of God”. This was the cause of the young officer’s confusion, for this is what the British believed that they were fighting for as well. Freedom, and God was surely on the side of the British.
So why exactly were they all fighting?
For a few brief hours the soldiers on each side gave up their attachment to the idea of country, army, regiment, and war. Instead they let these ideas fall away, giving up much of what they had held to be true since childhood, and celebrated their common humanity.
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