The trouble with the concept of karma is that it is a notion based on the assumption that nature owes humanity something. When we put faith in the notion that karma will catch up with someone who has wronged us, we hinge that faith on the belief that “justice” is some kind of natural order that, if human society fails to uphold it, Mother Nature will take onto her own hands.
Step back a bit and into the world of environmental activism — the collective of movements that aim to “save” the planet — then ask this simple question:
Does Planet Earth need saving?
The irony that seems to escape the thought leaders of our species is that the very arrogance that leads us to presume that Planet Earth needs “saving” from our lot is the very arrogance that brought us to this point to begin with. Specifically, the point we assume we are at today is one where our species have the power to “destroy” or “save” our planet and that the future of our children depends on our choice of which path to take.
This whole line of thinking begs a reality check. Planet Earth is nowhere near any danger of being “destroyed” — much less destroyed by an organism that managed to grow a brain capable of figuring out how to burn fossil fuels only in the last 500,000 years and one that scrapes a precarious existence by extracting resources off an inconsequentially thin layer of its planetary crust. Human existence would not even register as an itch on Mother Earth’s skin. And even if we did manage to elicit that itch, a quick scratch would relieve her of her annoyance and us of our misery. Permanently in the case of the latter.
Which leads us that that reality check: Mother Earth is in no danger of destruction. But our activities are on the verge of giving her an itch. What environmentalists fear (and these are the real environmentalists here) is the coming day when Mother Earth scratches.
Our planet is not going to die anytime soon, see. But what could happen is that the Earth could change its surface properties to a form that is inhospitable to human life — pehaps heralding a new planetary era that will see cockroaches emerge as the dominant form of life the way mammals did after dinosaurs went extinct and the era of reptiles came to a close a couple hundred million years ago.
Turning fuel into energy, after all, has always been a natural process going on long long before human beings appeared. Humans merely accelerated that natural process by building machines that could release energy stored in fossil fuels (essentially millions of years worth of solar energy stored in carbon-based matter) a lot faster. Just the same, we did it using our brains which, itself, is a naturally-occuring structure and its output, thinking, itself also a natural process.
In short, everything, ultimately, is natural — including human activity and its effect on the environment.
A Mercedes Benz is as much a natural outcome of human activity as an ant hill is an outcome of ant activity. So are the wars, the politics, the genocide, social media, space travel, and all the art and science that humanity has so far collectively achieved. Until recently, all that human activity, “good” or “bad”, has not caused an itch on Mother Nature’s skin.
In that light, there is nothing in nature upon which karma works. It is a human notion. And as far as Mother Nature is concerned, humans don’t matter — until they cause an itch.
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