Saturday, May 27, 2006

Karma Chameleon

Ryan snapped his Achilles tendon last week putting his leg temporarily out of commission; he has already had surgery and is hobbling around on crutches with his leg in a cast, and it will probably be months before he can start putting any pressure on his right foot again. He is in excruciating pain, and even a little movement tires him out. So I am picking him up on my way to work every morning, and the plan is for me to also drop him back most days starting next week, when he will be able to manage a longer workday without being exhausted. 'Think of all the karma points you will be earning', he told me.

So that got me thinking. About those points.

How does this whole point system work, anyway? Do I get more or less, depending on how I go about it? What if I drive him to and from work, but don't hide my irritation at the time and distance it adds to my already long work commute? What if I feel the irritation, but don't quite make it public? Or, on a different note, what if I really, truly, sincerely want to help him, but can't, because of some genuine reason? Do I still get karma points?

I guess almost every belief system tries, in one way or the other, to get its followers to do good; but to what extent does the actual purpose factor into the calculation? What is the difference, if any, between doing good just because it is the right thing to do, or in the hope of a reward, or to avoid some kind of divine punishment? Can we just be happy with the action, or do we need to explore intent?

I will have to mull on all this for a while. But in the mean time, if Ryan (or some higher power) is reading this, I need to make it perfectly clear that my motives are completely and purely altruistic. So bring on those points!

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