I am not a follower of Eastern religions, but there is an element of Buddhism in which I believe. It’s a phenomenon called "karma."
Contemporary poet Nishan Penwar describes karma this way: "Every act done, no matter how insignificant, will eventually return to the doer with equal impact. Good will be returned with good; evil with evil."
Karma is not exclusive to Buddhism. Buddhism just gave us a name for a truth known throughout the world.
In the English-speaking world we like to say, "What goes around comes around." The Dutch say, "Wie goed doet, goed ontmoet." (He who does good, will meet good.) Nearly every culture has a similar adage.
The Bible alludes to karma. Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote, "Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him." (Isaiah 3:11, ESV.) In his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul warned, "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap." (Galatians 6:7, ESV)
In the short term, it sometimes appears that bad guys get away with mischief and crime but in the end they reap what they sow. That’s karma.
I thought of this recently when I recalled a fellow I knew in Sioux City.
Ron (not his real name) managed a medium-size chain store. He advertised the business occasionally in the Sioux City Journal where I was the ad manager. I called on many businesses over the years and was customarily treated with respect by the people I dealt with. Not at Ron’s store.
Ron was an insecure little weasel who used his position as store manager to "lord it over" his subordinates and others. I witnessed his contemptuous attitude toward his subordinates frequently. He treated my employees and me similarly.
Late one afternoon, as I was wrapping up my work for the day, Ron called and told me he had to see me immediately about an advertising matter. I asked if it could wait until morning and he said it couldn’t. I told him I would be there right away.
Sioux City is not a large city but from 5-6 p.m. traffic is thick and it took at least 15 minutes to drive to his store. Upon arrival, I went directly to his office. He told me to wait in the hallway. I couldn’t hear any activity in his office but he made me wait at least 20 minutes.
Finally, he opened his door and invited me in. He laid a small advertising "slick" in front of me and asked what it would cost to publish the ad in our newspaper.
Always ready to make a sale, I pulled out a ruler, measured the ad, calculated the price and announced the cost. I asked on what days he wanted the ad to run.
"Oh, I don’t plan to run the ad," Ron said. "I just wanted to know how much it would cost if I did."
Once again I was a victim of Ron’s nastiness.
A few weeks later I learned that Ron had been fired. Karma had caught up with him.
Not too long after that we had an opening on our sales staff and I ran an ad seeking applicants. I was shocked a few days later to find in a stack of applications a résumé from Ron.
I read it carefully to be sure this was the same Ron. It was.
My sales staff was familiar with Ron and his disgusting personality. I took Ron’s résumé out to the sales floor and called for everyone’s attention. When I announced that we had received a résumé from Ron, a salesperson quickly said, "Don’t hire him. He’s a jerk."
I promised I wouldn’t. I can’t recall any other application that was so quickly ignored.
Whatever convinced Ron that he had a chance of getting hired by a company whose employees he had treated so maliciously, I will never know.
In its first round of action karma booted Ron from his job. I was happy to assist karma in its second round.
There is in life what is known as the Universal Paradox: you are free to choose but you are not free from the consequence of your choice.
Live wisely; karma is for real.