Dear Karma Cleanser:
I first would first like to say how much I enjoy your column. Second, I'd like to apol-ogize for posing a question that doesn't involve a twentysomething's sex life. I know that helps sell papers, even when the paper is free.
My wife recently posed a playful question, one that's been pondered from trailer park to townhome (mostly trailer park) across the country: "What is the first thing you'd do if you won the lottery?"
My plan involved giving life-changing amounts of money to the key personnel in my department at work, enabling them to leave the cheapskate corporate psycho we all work for. Then my wife brought out the "K" word: karma. After some heated debate, the question came down to intent. She felt that my intention of "stickin' it to the Man" dilutes the good karma of giving some respectable people a chance at improving their lives.
Even if the money were given without any stipulations, she believed my secondary intent to create trouble for "the Man" is cause for bad karma. Is karma based on a simplistic, one-dimensional event? If one intends to do good and sets in motion events that do more harm, is that bad karma? Should I just leave you alone and go to the freakin' library?
-- Scared to Play the Lottery
We'll side with your spouse on this one. If you could give out some green just as a mitzvah -- a good deed -- to improve the lives of your fellow wage slaves, then karma's fully on your side. But giving with the intent of inflicting revenge on your Scrooge of a supervisor risks plenty of karmic payback. That's the trouble with stickin' it to the Man: The universe always pokes back. No wonder so many lottery winners end up miserable.
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