The Big Issue : Edition 441
THe Big issue 13 – 26 sep 2013 29 culture police Fiona Scott-Norman You don’t need to be a Buddhist to embrace the idea of karma. In fact, next to telling guys with beer bellies they look like Buddha, thinking we must get around to meditating when we have time and appreciating the musical oeuvre of Kurt Cobain, karma is the one Buddhist thing that Westerners have grabbed with both hands and run with. What goes around comes around. You reap what you sow. they had it coming. We get it. of course, our appreciation of karma tends to be light on the ‘being mindful in this life so you move to a higher level of consciousness in the next’, and heavy on the schadenfreude. Our karma is instant, personal and generously seasoned with gloating. Boy, do we love it when people get their just deserts. I remember when a former prominent AFL footballer was caught with his best friend’s wife in a dunny, and was promptly cast out of the team. “Karma”, I cheered, “for being a total knob.” As tends to happen with cultural appropriation, though, we’ve papered over the awkward stuff. We don’t look at someone with cerebral palsy, nod sagely, and say ‘karma’, presuming he or she’s paying a debt for topping some geezer over a failed love affair three lives back. When British media ‘personality’ Jimmy Savile toddled off two years ago, his revolting life as a sexual predator then undetected and unpunished, there was no comfort in the thought that he may return as a cockroach, or as a footballer’s haemorrhoids. So it might not be karma, but there’s still cause and effect. effect is obvious: why, for example, am I sitting here at midday in my dressing gown, rather than being fed strawberries by James Spader? the challenge is narrowing down the cause. Humans have spent donkey’s years tinkering philosophically with how to justify unfairness. Why can’t some people take a trick, while others always win? If it’s not past lives messing with our chi, what is it? We’ve had theories galore. Angering the gods. Satan wandering the earth tempting us with his dexterous fiddle playing. Fatal character flaws. (See Shakespeare, whose works feature people brought undone by ambition, greed or not being able to distinguish twins and/or women ingeniously dressed as comely pages.) nature. nurture. Mummy issues. daddy issues. And, as popularised in the 1970s, being ‘born illustrationbygregbakes;originalphotographbymilesstandish Ducking anD weaving won’t make your problems go away. FACING UP » For virtually more FSN, visit fionascottnorman.com.au, or follow her on Twitter @FScottNorman. bad’, which led to the generation who watched The Omen not naming their children damien. Pondering recent political and sporting events, I think I’ve finally nailed the quintessential crux of cause and effect. to wit, If You don’t Clean up Your Mess, It Will Come Back and Bite You on the Bum. Like it? I’m going to stretch it to 80,000 words and get it stocked in Big W stores. this is how it goes. It was impossible for Julia Gillard to fulfil her promise as prime minister because of how she got the job. Regardless of why it happened, it wasn’t done transparently, and she was destined to spend the rest of her time in office wading thigh-deep in merde while being bum- bitten on a minute-by-minute basis. Stephen Milne. Genius goal sneak for St Kilda Football Club in the AFL; charged with rape halfway through the 2013 season. the alleged offence took place over nine years ago. But, for a number of reasons, it wasn’t dealt with conclusively at the time, and a decade later it came back and Bit Him on the BumtM . Julian Assange. He’s the poster boy for Bum Biting, living in a teeny room in the ecuadorian embassy in London because he’s refusing to deal with his mess. Bizarre. But, until he fronts the Swedes, there’s no viable political career for Julian. not least because he can’t leave the building. this is Assange’s life right now; everything happens within the context of him refusing to face sex-related charges. His reality is defined by his mess. It’s a peculiar truth, but it doesn’t matter, actually, whether he’s guilty or not. If he’d gone back to Sweden immediately, it would probably be done and dusted by now, one way or another. But no, he’s dragging it around with him like a big chunk of dog mess on his shoe. that’s not karma, that’s refusing to face freaking reality. oh, we all do it. We duck and feint, wishing it all away. Whatever you’re avoiding? Clean it up. Because when your bum gets bitten, it’s not karma. It’s not God’s Will. It’s not because you have ‘issues’. It’s because you have dog mess on your shoe.