I just ‘stepped out’ (where did that phrase come from, anyway?) for a few minutes – bank run, Starbucks run, Hecht’s run (I LOVE working at Metro Center!). On the way back to the office from Hecht’s, I felt ‘a bit peckish’ (that one comes from England; I know that much), so I dropped into Caribou Coffee. Or rather, I stepped into Caribou Coffee. Or something. Anyway, as I was in line, I heard a homeless guy working over (again – derivation?) the lady behind me. I’m not sure I fully got the gist – I’m not sure there was a full gist to get, is part of the problem – but I believe he was trying to get her to order him a drink using a ‘free drink’ coupon he had.
So, no big deal, right? No real skin off her nose (another weird phrase)! She’s in line anyway, and doesn’t have to pay a dime extra. The strange part was, the guy acted like he was doing her a huge favor. As if, by giving her his free drink gift certificate (so she could buy him a specified drink), he was granting a boon. He even said, “Well, I like to give back, you know?” He was outside hawking the homeless paper, by the way. Just to round out the scene.
After he went back outside, I asked the gal, “And in what way is he ‘giving back’ to you?” “I have no idea,” she said with a shrug. “But I figure, hey, it doesn’t hurt to have good karma. It’ll come back around.”
I pondered that on my walk back to the office. Granted, a length of two half-blocks. So: Karma, or at least this woman’s perception of karma, reduces even the most selfless act – except, perhaps, dying for someone, unless you believe that the specific act grants you something – to a selfish gesture. I do for you, because I want it done for me later. Similar to the Golden Rule, perhaps. Except that the Golden Rule doesn’t automatically dictate that you’ll be done back to.
Is the Christian perspective selfish like that? I am to love others in thoughts, words and deeds because Christ first loved me… No, I don’t think so. Because it doesn’t EARN me Christ’s love. It’s done out of gratitude. And because God commands it. Suggests it? Does he suggest, or command?
Wasn’t it one of y’all’s blogs that reminded some time ago that all acts are intrinsically selfish? I had never thought of that before. Kind of like the idea that all humor is painful to someone?
Enough not-so-deep thoughts for me. If anyone has a greater perception of Karma, I’d love to hear about it. Or where the concept fits in the Grand Scheme. Because, I’ll admit, whenever I smugly declare that “I’ve never gotten a speeding ticket!” despite the fact that I speed every time I drive somewhere, the phrase, “Pride goeth before a fall” rumbles through my head, and I frantically do some sort of inner penitence. So perhaps I am down with the whole Karma thing, too.
Except: Okay, one last thought: I don’t really do nice things for people in the hope or expectation that they’ll be done to me in return. I think I do them because it makes me feel good. Which, yes. Is intrinsically selfish. And, I want to please God. I want him to pat me on the head and say, “That’s my girl!” And perhaps forget about the 53 mean inner thoughts I had in the course of my commute just hours before.