By Thamar Jones
Whenever we hear of a heinous crime being committed against an innocent person on the news the question we all ask is: Why do bad things happen to good people?
As young people, we are constantly trying to make sense of our world. As we try to establish our own principles and values in life, sometimes things happen, that shake our beliefs at their core.
Does good really overcome evil? Does justice prevail? Do good things really come to those who wait? Is honesty really the best policy?
We’ve all heard the phrase, “what goes around comes around” or you’ve seen a person get what was coming to them and thought, “That’s karma for you.” But these, according to the Social Science of Psychology, are shades of what is known as the Just World Fallacy.
It sucks to think that the world isn’t fair because that would mean that even perpetual good deeds can’t guarantee us good favor throughout life. It feels better to believe in fairness and karma and justice and reward. A world with the righteous on one side of the scale, and evil on the other – that seems to make sense. You want to believe that those who work hard and sacrifice get ahead and those who are lazy and cheat do not.
This, of course, is not always true. The kind of life we live is often greatly influenced by when you were born, where you grew up, the socioeconomic status of your family and random chance. All the good works in the world can’t change those initial factors, which is not to say you should just give up if you were born into poor circumstances.
The problem with the Just-World Fallacy or a strong belief in karma, is that it can lead to a false sense of security. You want to feel in control, so you assume as long as you avoid bad behavior, you won’t be harmed. You feel safer when you believe those who engage in bad behavior end up on the street, became pregnant or addicted, raped or even killed.
It is infuriating when lazy cheats and con artists get ahead in the world while firemen and nurses put in long hours for little pay or to see a good person dying in a painful way. Deep down, you want to believe hard work and virtue will lead to success, and laziness, evil and manipulation will lead to ruin, so you go ahead and edit the world to match those expectations.
Yet, in reality, evil often prospers and never pays the price. There are anecdotal accounts of people seeing the prisoners of concentration camps for the first time and assuming they must have been terrible criminals. The first place the mind goes is the place where the world is just.
Why do we do this? Some psychologists say it is a need to be able to predict the outcome of our own behavior, or to feel secure in our past decisions. But you should not view your life as being governed by karma. Your past actions might influence your future via the principle of cause and effect but nothing is guaranteed.
There is a way though, that our past deeds can affect our present and future. You aren’t manifesting arguments with your friends and dead-end jobs or health problems as a form of punishment because you said something mean to someone. However having negative feelings such as guilt or self-hatred because of something that you’ve done, could attract some serious negativity into your life but it would be because the negative feelings burdening you and affecting your vibrations not because you stocked up on some bad karma.
I feel that it is important to differentiate because in the one belief system, where we believe in karma, we view ourselves as being acted upon by a greater force, having no control over the events that befall us and we judge the character of others thinking that people who are losing (or winning) at the game of life must have done something to deserve it.
On the other hand, when we understand that there is no karma, and that the belief in a just world is merely a misconception but that we do attract certain events based on our vibrations (our vibes), we begin to accept that we can increase our chances of attracting more positive outcomes all while not torturing ourselves into thinking we deserve it when bad things happen.
By Thamar Jones