Karma ensures that poetic justice doesn't just happen in stories (The Funny Side)
Uh-oh. My son, after spending his whole life in Mario world picking up rows of spinning gold coins, is about to step into the real world. I'm worried the shock may traumatise him. ("Dad, where's all the money? All the gold coins that are supposed to be lying around?" "Er, the Pokemon took it.")
Most adults fail to teach youngsters enough about reality. I make my kids watch old movies and explain to them that there were no special effects and we had to actually shoot, stab and run over bad guys all the time. "In the original 1977 Star Wars they had to blow up a planet, which is why old books list nine planets but new ones have eight."
One good thing about kids' appetite for movies and games is that they learn that bad guys always end up suffering poetic justice, something that those of us in the news business know happens remarkably often in real life, too.
In the newspaper recently was a report about a man in Pennsylvania who was annoyed that his neighbour's big old tree dripped sap on his car. The angry man used a chainsaw to chop the tree down -- and it fell right on top of his house, wrecking it. The formal scientific term for this kind of thing is "Karma strikes again".
Karma also seems to have been present in the case of a US prisoner who made a deathbed confession. Dying of a heart attack, James Washington of Tennessee told a police officer that he had "to get something off my conscience" and revealed that he had killed a woman 17 years earlier. Karma arranged for his miraculous recovery to full health for his new 51-year jail sentence for murder.
And you probably noticed that when Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt announced that they were getting divorced, his ex-wife Jennifer Aniston made one comment: "That's karma." She clearly believed that the God or more likely Goddess of Karma noticed that Ms. Jolie stole her husband 11 years ago and waited patiently to arrange an implosion in her family. It does seem to be true that cosmic justice can operate rather slowly; so my advice is to keep a list of hoped-for victims in case reminders are needed.
The interesting thing is that karma often uses human hands to do its work. An internet viral video shows the view from a motorcyclist's helmet. Every time she sees a motorist throw garbage out of a car window, she picks it up, zooms along the road to catch up with the driver, and throws it back in -- in one case, a bag containing the remnants of a fast food meal explodes satisfyingly over the driver's lap.
But the people who suffer most from karma are those who attempt to educate others. We are instantly punished for making any ill-judged remark. Me: "There's no such thing as a stupid question." Student: "Did snakes evolve from ropes?" Student 2: "Did Shakespeare write anything in English?" Student 3: "Is there gravity in Australia?" Me: "Okay I'm wrong."
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