Action, Reaction

by Tim Bellows

September 22, 2003


A few thoughts came swimming by for me the other day -- in the shower, of course -- about how all the cause-and-effect situations in this world are similar or perhaps parallel. I saw that any one person must take responsibility for, say, her financial actions: to overdraw on a bank account results in bounced check fees and a lousy reputation. Using credit cards in a spending spree racks up a load of interest charges on a nightmare balance. And severe penalties come back to us from cheating in business deals. Even telling half truths will have personal consequences we never dreamed of. Our actions return to us wearing different clothes; it's just the way life works. The same reaping and sowing is explained in the Bible, the karma of the Hindu scriptures -- as well as Paul Twitchell's The Shariyat-Ki-Sugmad.

Also, the connection that came to me as I dried off was how a city or town is an entity too, an essence, just like a person. Life quietly insists that any entity has to take responsibility for its legislation and large-scale financial moves. Also the military and large-scale business moves that a nation makes work out in this same framework, the way the Creator -- or the Universe if you like -- designed this life for us all.

It struck me that someone said, "What a nation does is done to it sooner or later." If it meddles in the affairs of other countries (Iraq? Iran? Nicaragua?), and if citizens are killed or starved because of policies, contracts and arms sales, then some disaster or other - in equal measure -- may well come to the initiating nation. Sometimes we forget that's the way of things. Put a lit match against another match, and there's a clear reaction, that burst of flame.

Send bombs and missiles into another nation? I wonder what kind of "burst" results from that. Can an entire nation follow Jesus' saying, "Resist not evil?" Resist or fight back against evil too much and we draw it to ourselves!

So we must consider our thoughts and acts in this world of cause and effect. All we do is done to us! All that countries do is done to them. Many believe all things are connected in this way, and some will never believe it through this lifetime. But we'd be smart to watch how the tides move. See if we really do get away with anything in the long run. See if any country can escape the consequences of its own shady dealings or power plays.

Let's watch well and keep all our doors and windows open to insights -- in mind and spirit.

Poet Jack Kerouac says, "I love you because you're me." And this sums up karma nicely because all life is one great entity -- yet a collocation of individual entities. (I for one find the paradox refreshing.) Lives are connected; we are one: doing to others means doing to ourselves. Jesus implied this strongly, saying something like, "Even as ye have done it unto the least of these my children, ye have done it unto me." He could have added "and unto thyselves."

Finally, all lives are equally sacred: Dr. Albert Sweitzer says, "A man is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred to him, that of plants and animals as well as that of his fellowman, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help."

So I aim to hang close to Total Honesty -- that behavior. So Total Honesty comes back to me. To work, to act in the name of love all day.

Tell your political reps. Tell your CEOs. Tell -- in or out of the shower -- your own heart-of-heart.

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9/11 on Swans


Tim Bellows is a poet, teacher, and writer. He's taught undergraduate research and creative writing for over thirteen years and has earned a graduate degree from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Bellows' work, under the pen name Alex Li, appears in many journals and magazines. He lives in Rancho Cordova, California.

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Published September 22, 2003
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