Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Karma in the United States

I believe that there is some truth to the principle of karma, its effects touching all beings and collectives, including nations. The United States of America is no exception.

There are many histories in the world and likewise, many here in the USA. We have all heard the beautiful and idealized history fed to us in our youth. Who can deny that we were all lied to about Christopher Columbus when we were children? Who can deny the sidestepping action of most middle school teachers avoiding the fact that many heroes of the American Revolution were slave owners, and thus were not fighting for the freedom of all, but for the freedom of only some men?

We often forget the genocidal actions of our own government during the so-called Indian War, an active military campaign that lasted roughly 100 years and was followed by the systematic encampment and forced movement of hundreds of thousands of people.

A frenzy of nationalism broke out as the United States proclaimed a “Manifest Destiny” of extending her borders “from sea to shining sea.” Through war, genocide, chance, opportunity and deceit we obtained our objective. Our nation was built on the backs of slaves treading upon stolen land. We are a nation founded by profit and materialism. That is the ugly side of U.S. history in a nutshell. This is what some may call an “alternative history,” yet it is more accurate than the idealized history Americans are taught in primary and secondary schools across the nation. We must take the good with the bad in any effective introspective.

Both the United States and Canada had “Internment Camps” where citizens of Japanese origin were sent during WWII, their Constitutional Rights abridged and rescinded with no reparations made. White Americans, to draw another WWII parallel, have also mistreated black Americans in the South.

The victors of any battle are the ones who write history. They spin it to serve their interests. Our nation is no different. If we admit our wrongs, then we must also be held accountable, and accountability is not easy to live with. Therefore, some things must be swept under the rug. But karma is not so easily avoided; for every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction, and to maintain balance, energy is neither created nor destroyed. Karma keeps working whether we admit our wrongs or not.

This leaves us in a very difficult position. It is not always easy to do the right thing. It is not always easy to discern what the right thing is. For example, it is too late to give the land back to the Native Americans, we can’t go back to our proper homelands, we cannot raise the dead, nor can we turn back time. There is no possible repayment for the wrongs we as a nation have inflicted upon our own people, much less the rest of the world. However, we may start to improve the future by becoming more conscious and careful of our actions.

Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We must rapidly begin to shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

It is this very issue that is at the core of our problems as a nation today. We value things more than people, we outsource good jobs in the name of profit and we force children, in Indonesia for example, to labor 15 hours per day manufacturing whatever’s hot on eBay. We get up in the morning, we go to work (where most of us produce nothing of use), and we get home to watch T.V. and program our minds. We invade nations over rumors or lies; we bomb buildings and make terror so that we can feel safer at home. As of this moment, we deserve everything we have coming to us.

T. James Hanaburgh was a Collegian columnist. Check out his blog at


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