A lot of people understand karma as this big mystical force but karma is in fact much simpler than that.
Karma means that every action has a consequence, and positive actions have positive consequences. Likewise, negative actions have negative consequences.
“Show me karma in action then!” you might say.
Well, buckle down because here are five examples of bad karma in real life.
1) Stalin and the doctors
The death of the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin is a perfect example of karma biting back.
One could make the argument that with how much suffering he had caused, being directly responsible for over 9 million deaths, and being ‘indirectly’ responsible for the Great Ukrainian Famine, he was not one would consider a good guy.
But the actual chain of events that led to his death is nothing short of karma in action.
Stalin had a toxic attitude towards Jews. He would paint an image of himself as being a ‘friend’ to Jews when it suited him, such as by condemning how the Nazis treated Jews.
The rest of the time, however, he would actively take every opportunity to oppress, marginalize, and ruin these people.
One such example of him being horrid to Jews was in his later years. He had been accusing Jewish doctors of being assassins conspiring to kill senior politicians. This led to a general suspicion towards doctors in general.
Thus, when Stalin was found suffering from a cerebral hemorrhage in his bedroom, he was simply moved to a couch.
No doctors were willing to diagnose or help him because, well, why would they want to?
The guy had been making their life a living hell, and they’d get accused of assassination if Stalin died!
Spoiler alert: Stalin did die.
And his death was long and drawn out. He was found dying on the first of March, sent home, and he did not die until the fifth.
If Stalin had been more friendly with the doctors, then perhaps he would have been treated and the man saved from the brink of death. If you treat people badly, there will come a time that those same people could do the same thing to you.
2) The mom who’s punished for punishing her kids publicly
There are many reasons why it’s probably a bad idea to involve the internet in your parenting, and eBay user Daney21 realized firsthand why.
The year was 2011, Daney21’s two sons accidentally destroyed her bathtub by playing with their Beyblade toys in it. Her reaction was to take her sons’ Beyblades and put them up for auction on eBay explaining that she’s putting them up on sale with the intention of having the proceeds go to the repair of the bathtub.
Sounds fair? That’s not all.
She had on the listing a picture of her two sons, both visibly upset, holding a bag showing off the toys that had been put on sale.
In her description, Daney21 further explains that after she gets rid of the Beyblades, she will also take the money in her sons’ piggy-banks and then auction off the rest of their toys.
This caught the attention of people from all over the internet, including those who hung out in an anonymous message board named 4chan. They immediately set to work trying to ruin Daney21’s listing, and they did it by raising the bids sky high with fraudulent bids. From 81 USD, it went to 200, then to 610, then to 10,501, then eventually to 999,999.
The listing was eventually taken down from eBay. She had planned to put them up again but decided it wasn’t worth exposing herself to the public trolling once more.
And it’s a good thing she didn’t because otherwise, things would have escalated to more than just the harmless bid inflation that she had gotten.
The internet has largely forgotten about her. She did manage to earn herself an Encyclopedia Dramatica article, however, branding herself a horrible mom for life.
The most obvious lesson to glean from all this is “Don’t go overboard” and the second is “Don’t use the internet in shaming people.”
They’re children. Talk to your kids, let them know what they did wrong and maybe give them a time-out. What you shouldn’t do is publicly shame them on the internet, because that will stick with them as they grow older.
If you shame someone on the internet, especially if they’re minors, people will be out to get you and you could end up having a bad reputation even decades after you die.
3) Discrimination at work backfired badly
In 2012, a registered care aide named Jessica Davis was called to her supervisor’s office, where the supervisor and a coworker tried their best to pressure her, stress her out, and trigger her PTSD.
The two eventually forced her into going to the hospital’s psych emergency ward over her mental condition.
The hospital let Jessica go, saying that other than her being stressed about being forced to come to the ward, she was totally fine.
The supervisor did not stop though and put her on extended medical leave… without informing her. To make things worse, the supervisor fabricated lies to the higher-ups.
The registered care aide filed a complaint to their bosses, and in the meeting, the supervisor told lies, such as saying that the aide had been standing before mirrors with knives wanting to cut flesh and that she has got a murderer in her head wanting to get loose.
The bosses believed the supervisor, and her complaints were shut down.
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What ensued then was that the aide elevated the matter to a human rights tribunal and… she won!
It took her three long years and, in that time, she lost work, had to move and leave almost all of her belongings behind, find employment, and all the while struggled with mental agony over the whole ordeal.
But she won, had her reputation cleared up, was paid over forty thousand dollars in damages, and both her supervisor and the coworker were fired and had their actions put on record so anyone who wanted to hire either of them will see what they had done.
And who would want to hire someone like that?
The lesson here is that even if you think you’re getting away doing something bad, sooner or later you will meet someone who will prove you wrong. It might be the first person you choose to victimize, or the third, or the tenth.
And why do it anyway? It pays to help people and be nice instead. You might just find yourself face to face with positive karma that way.
4) When greed smothered nations
Karma doesn’t have to revolve around individuals. It can also happen on a larger scale, to organizations, companies, and even nations.
Back in 2019, there was an attempt to expand the palm oil industry in Indonesia, in part to catch up to the vivid palm oil industry of neighboring Malaysia. To do this, large swathes of rain forest were cut down and burned to make room for farmland.
This was a terrible move!
See, it was the dry season, and despite the Indonesian government doing its best to put out the fires, they spread out of control. To make it worse, Indonesia has large areas of peatland and long after surface fires were put out, the peat continued to smolder underground.
All of this covered Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and many other Southeast Asian countries in a thick cloud of smoke that lasted for at least four months. It was thick enough that you could barely see a hundred feet in front of you.
If you have been anywhere near a fire, you would know that it is a bad idea to breathe in smoke for any period of time. Now imagine how torturous it must have been to endure all that for months!
More than a million people went down with severe respiratory infections, some died, and many more had their lives disrupted by this event, from school being canceled to flights in and out of Southeast Asia being suspended.
And all that started with greed.
The biggest lesson here is that karma does not necessarily impact just the person or group doing the action. We don’t live in a vacuum, and the consequences of our actions can harm or benefit the people around us as well.
In this incident, it was Indonesia that was responsible for the haze, yet its neighbors had to suffer alongside it. Likewise, not all Indonesians were responsible for or complicit in the burning of the rainforests, yet they suffered all the same.
The people responsible for the fires did get their just deserts, of course. About 230 people were arrested for their involvement in the burning. Still, hopefully, this story will serve to caution people to be more aware of the world around them.
5) Not so tough after all
If you have spent any amount of time online, you will surely have come across trolls. People who seem to have nothing to do but to make people upset. If you have ever wondered whatever goes on in the minds of these people, you’re not alone.
In 2012, while producing the documentary “Panorama”, The BBC decided to track down Nimrod Severn. He is an internet troll notorious for leaving unpleasant comments on memorials of recently deceased people on Facebook. Comments such as him hoping the deceased will “rot in piss”.
The BBC was successful in tracking him down and decided to interview him. When he was asked if he thinks his trolling has an effect on people, his response was “Yeah… f*ck ‘em”.
He then went on to say that “Facebook is an open forum” and that he can say whatever he wants. His real name and address were exposed in that same documentary and the response was for him to get an incredible amount of hate.
Fast forward to the future, and he basically disappeared off the face of the internet, and nobody knows how he is doing now. But his name is out there, and for perpetuity, it will be tied to that guy who threw verbal stones at grieving families.
Don’t you ever think you’re anonymous enough, even on the internet?
You might think you are, but you are not. So don’t let the relative anonymity the internet affords you be an excuse for you to be mean to others, or forget that there are people on the other side of the screen.
Online trolls thrive off of that sense of anonymity, and it’s always a shock when that anonymity is broken. And if you are a notorious enough troll, there will be someone who will attempt to break that. If not the BBC, then message-boards like 4chan.
Of course, it helps to keep in mind that you shouldn’t be poking the bear if you can’t stomach the possibility of it waking up and clawing your face off. There might be a fence between you and the beast, but is it going to hold? Probably not!
It pays to be kind to be other people. Online or offline, it doesn’t matter.
Karma is extremely straightforward if you think about it. Give a friend some money in their time of need, and they will help you out when you need it.
If you kick your friend out in their time of need, you lose a friend and gain an enemy.
There’s no need to go all mystical about it. Good actions most often lead to good things, and bad actions most often lead to bad things.
Some people get away with a bad deed every now and then, but sooner or later they will meet something that hits them in the gut. Likewise, sometimes good deeds go unappreciated, but eventually, that appreciation will come.
If everyone would see karma this way, life would be much better for everyone.
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