Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Karma Revisited; and a Poem at Five-Thirty

Meditation done,
I sit here wondering
where today
will take me. Where
will it take you?


O.J.'s Karma

So we're back there again. The "loathesome O.J." as Mureen Dowd calls him in her New York Times column today. Such a dreadful, story, filled with so many ironies and complexities. Did he do it? That old question. I wanted, at first, all those years ago, to believe he didn't. He was, after all, a remarkable athlete in his time. He seemed, from everything one saw and read about him, to be a young man of charm and intelligence. Besides, I was, all those years ago, a professor at USC and, by virtual necessity, a USC fan. There was also, I confess, a kind of reverse racist part of me that did not want to think ill of him for nothing better than reverse racist reasons. I think, in this, that I shared a lot in common with those vocal parts of the African American community that sided with him.

Despite all of which, the evidence seemed indisputable: he did it. And his subsequent life--at least so far as it has come to our collective attention through the media--has done nothing to ameliorate his image or soften the gut feeling of hs guilt. He has seemed, as Ellie mildly put it, like a "very troubled man."

And now this further melodrama to distract us all from the war in Iraq, the health care problems that this nation faces--no, refuses to face--the widespread social injustices made worse by the inequality of educational opportunity, an administration beleagured in consequence of its own incompetence, cronyism and corruption, an ignorance and/or apathy that undermines the voting process in what we are pleased to call our "democracy"... despite these and other problems, we have this new melodrama to distract us.

Amidst it all, the word "karma" pops up, on the lips of no less a dignitary than NBC's Matt Lauer, who asks Kim Goldman, Ron's sister, if this is O.J.'s karma, as some, it seems, are saying. She says she thinks it might be karma giving that old Goldman family nemesis "a tap on the shoulder." (I'm with Thailandgal, by the way, on the subject of the Goldmans' publishing of that book. See her 9/14 entry.)

Well, I had a bit of a shudder hearing a word that's important to me used in this particular context. On the other hand, what's so precious about a word? I abuse them all the time, and they generously stick with me anyway. And who knows, maybe this latest episode in O. J. Simpson's ill-starred life is indeed a way of past actions catching up with him. I can't claim access to the secret inner truths of any other person's life. It's hard enough to hold myself accountable for mine.


carly said...

P: a nice group of couplets

“Tang of fruitage in the air;
Red boughs bursting everywhere;
Shimmering of seeded grass;
Hooded gentians all a’mass.
Warmth of earth, and cloudless wind
Tearing off the husky rind,
Blowing feathered seeds to fall
By the sun-baked, sheltering wall.
Beech trees in a golden haze;
Hardy sumachs all ablaze,
Glowing through the silver birches.
How that pine tree shouts and lurches!
From the sunny door-jamb high,
Swings the shell of a butterfly.
Scrape of insect violins
Through the stubble shrilly dins.
Every blade’s a minaret
Where a small muezzin’s set,
Loudly calling us to pray
At the miracle of day.
Then the purple-lidded night
Westering comes, her footsteps light
Guided by the radiant boon
Of a sickle-shaped new moon.”

- Amy Lowell, Late September

PeterAtLarge said...

Nice, Carly. Very rich...

They call him James Ure said...

Watching O.J. is like watching a train wreck.

He seems to be the crazy uncle in the family that gets way too drunk at the family gatherings and makes an ass of himself.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter, Chris Jordan checking in. Great to chat with you this morning.

I don't personally hate OJ; in fact I still love the guy from way back. He was a funny actor and an amazing football hero, and that is still alive for me. I have always thought he has a good heart, and maybe his fire has burned down to an ember, but I still see it in him.

The only thing I hate about him is that he is not telling the truth. It is sad because I think he is depriving himself of an otherwise fulfilling life by sticking to his lie. I think by becomming more authentic (telling the truth) he could be a hero again, just a different kind this time. We are badly in need of more authenticity in our culture right now, and to date he has served as a model for the worst way to behave. If he were to change, he might inspire others.

warm regards from Seattle,


thailandchani said...

I wish I could agree with CJ above. It's always better somehow to see the best in people when we can.

In OJ's case though, I'm left with the feeling that he is either the maddest person I've ever seen.. or he has no concept of acceptable human behavior ~ the latter making him a sociopath.

Karma.. yes... that word is consistently misused. :)



robin andrea said...

I don't like to think in terms of karma, then I have consider everyone's all at once. I don't like to think of OJ at all. I resent the news people elevating one man's madness over all others, especially while a war is raging. I tend to look away from the wreck of famous individual human lives. I have long since given up trying to extrapolate anything meaningful from their excesses.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I think that many people regard karma as fate, ineluctable, which has the advantage of excusing them from any responsibility for their own actions.

OJ made some incredibly bad choices in his life. He made those choices for two other people, which he did not have the right to do.

Cause and effect is the law of the universe. Even for him, which he apparently was not counting on. We get back exactly what we put out, no matter what form it takes.

Sooner or later, we get ours. And I find great comfort in that.

PeterAtLarge said...

I'm grateful to have such smart and thoughtful commentary. These are times when an intelligent discussion of pressing moral issues is vital to our common survival--and, all too evidently, the survival of our species. As a recent book points out, the Earth will do just fine without us...