Is it Bad Luck or Karma?

June 20, 2010

After reflecting on the events that have occurred throughout German history I have come to a conclusion that is based on my personal beliefs.  I am not a religious person nor am I an expert on it but there are some aspects of it I am very fond about and one of those is Karma.  Karma in Buddhism is the force that drives samsāra- the cycle of suffering and rebirth for each being.  Good, skillful deeds (Pāli: “kusala”) and bad, unskillful (Pāli: “akusala”) actions produce “seeds” in the mind which come to fruition either in this life or in a subsequent rebirth.  That is the definition that Buddhism goes by and to my understanding it means what goes around comes around.  So how does this pertain to Germany?  Well looking back on the events that have taken place since the end of WWI it is pretty apparent that Germany has had some great misfortunes up until 1989 when the wall came down.  So was the GDR the Karma for all of the harm German people did to those they considered “others”?

I am going to list all of the things I analyzed that helped me lead to this conclusion beginning with what we have learned in history classes throughout our educational careers which is the fact that Germany instigated both world wars and subsequently lost both.  The next point is that the German people had to tolerate two dictatorships in a row, the one by Hitler and the one by the GDR. For the second dictatorship, which as we know was communist, only 16 million people had to experience it out of the entire German population but it is still a significant amount.  The Eastern government as we learned throughout this trip was totalitarian and used terror to keep everyone in line and well disciplined.  It used the German people against the German people which I think is worse than German against Jew, homosexual, disabled, etc.  So why does this matter?  If we think back at how many people died under Hitler’s command it is about 11 million people, 6 million Jews and 5 million others that were being persecuted by his government.  These people were being exterminated in many different ways, driven out of Germany, torn apart from their families but it did not take long for them to realize what was going on and if caught what their fate was going to be as opposed to the GDR people lived in constant fear, having to watch their backs constantly, making sure they said and did the right thing every time because you never knew who was spying on you and just waiting to report you to the Stasi, it could be your spouse, friend, relative, or just a random person.  So I’ll leave to you to decide which one is worse? I personally think that not knowing who to trust and being picked up out of nowhere by people you didn’t know, taken to jail for something you probably didn’t do and tortured physically and mentally is much worse than knowing exactly what your fate was going to be like the majority of the people during Hitler’s time. 

Next, I looked at the fact that the same concentration camps that were being used on the “others” during the Nazi period were now being used on the German people, interesting, how’s that for a taste of your own medicine?  I’m not in any way justifying any of these actions but after some deep thought I honestly did see the GDR as the Karma for all of the harm that was done during Hitler’s time.  Of course not all of the German people paid in the same way but 16 million of them did which is a pretty close number to how many people were killed during the holocaust… Lastly, the Nazis were in power for about 12 years while the GDR terrorized the German people for 40 years.  So is it Karma or just bad luck?



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