Karmic Retribution

New information has come out about the sinking of The Titanic. It turns out that there was a fire weakening the hull when the ship took off, but the owner of The Titanic ordered for the ship to take off anyway. The owner escaped in one of the places on the lifeboats meant for a woman or child, so while he was alive the sinking of the ship was blamed on the captain, who went down along with his ship. It now looks like the owner – who is of course dead – was at fault all along.

Whenever I hear about things like this, and I hear people start talking about things like Hell and cosmic punishment, it always brings to mind my own beliefs about the problem of evil.

Before I start, let me clarify: though much of morality is relative, I define “evil” as those acts that are essentially universally evil. The murder of innocents, rape and sexual assault. The big ones. Recklessly endangering innocent life for one’s own personal gain, such as is the case here, to me qualifies as universally evil.

First, I believe in karmic retribution, not Hell. I believe that whatever we do to others will in some life be done to us in turn. This applies to good acts as well as bad acts. I think that’s fair.

I don’t believe God has much control in our affairs beyond creating us and placing us in each new life. Therefore, evil happens in the world because sometimes people just suck. It’s up to us to stop the world from sucking – it has nothing to do with some immortal deity.

This also means, however, that we have free will. That each choice we make is in our own hands.

So, I guess what I’m saying is… that even if people who do evil acts are not punished in this life, they will be punished in a future life. Whether it’s as a dead spirit, in the afterlife, or in their next life, at some point justice will come. The universe metes out its own punishments. We should focus on doing what we can to make the world a little better place, instead of worrying about the punishment of others.

Each free act carries its own weight. I think we could all do to remember that.

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