The Karma Question

Since his sentencing in December, I’ve thought long and hard before chiming in on the latest O.J. saga. Given that everyone is now pretty much in agreement on the character of this psychopathic primate, I’m not interested in getting in a few “me too” jabs.

Nevertheless, as I watched O.J. near tears in court, the word karma came quickly to mind – as it probably did with you. Not only because of the way his life has turned out, but also considering the lives of so many of the other actors in the 14-year run of this modern-day Greek tragedy.

About a year-and-a-half ago, I wrote a two-part article titled “Karma and Compound Interest,” in which I pondered the possibility that the late Johnny Cochran, who died of a brain tumor in 2005, might have been a victim of his own karma.

I took a lot of heat for that, but I wasn’t passing judgment on him. I was merely thinking out loud. When I asked, “Was Cochran’s gruesome death compounded interest that came due on his karma debt?” I just wanted to give readers some food for thought.

As we can all vividly recall, Cochran brilliantly transformed the O.J. Simpson trial into the trial of Mark Fuhrman. And for years, Cochran insisted that he believed O.J. was innocent. I never bought it. Cochran was smart, and he had to know that he was responsible for setting a vicious double-murderer free.

As they led O.J. out of the courtroom this time around, I also thought about Robert Kardashian, Simpson’s former friend who is best known as the guy seen carrying a garment bag from Simpson’s home the day after the murders. He then signed on to the Simpson legal team, apparently just to be able to claim attorney-client privilege regarding the matter. Kardashian died in 2003 of cancer of the esophagus at age 59. Karma? Who knows?

And how about “good karma”? Think of the many people who became famous and built careers as a result of the O.J. case. Mark Fuhrman became a respected contributor to Fox News. Marcia Clark is the legal correspondent for Entertainment Tonight and The Insider, and she made big bucks on her book Without a Doubt. Most amazing of all, Greta Van Susteren became a superstar! (Hmm… after sticking up for O.J. on CNN every night throughout the trial? Go figure.)

Then there’s Kato Kaelin who is… well, he’s still just Kato Kaelin, still searching for his sixteenth minute of fame. And if he doesn’t find it, I guess he’ll have to be satisfied with going down in history as the world’s most famous houseguest. Some karma.


As I said in my previous two-part article on this subject, “Everything that goes around comes around” is a nice, tight, philosophical view of life that is very comforting – until we come up against two scenarios that don’t fit:

  1. When bad things happen to good people, and…
  2. When good things happen to bad people.

Since I’ve already written about the above two possibilities, I won’t go into them again here. But I will add another one that the most current O.J. trial brought to mind: What about people who get away with dishonest or criminal behavior and don’t get caught? I’m talking about a sort of lesser version of “When good things happen to bad people.”

Why do scoundrels like Joran Van Der Sloot, among others who have been in the news, seem to be able to escape the consequences of their actions? I think this question not only baffles most people, it frustrates them.

But I don’t let it bother me, and I’ll tell you why. When you believe someone has gotten away with something, you are assuming that you know how things will turn out for them in the long term. But you don’t. After years of seeming to get away with murder (some figuratively, some literally), universal law finally caught up with such moral giants as Drew Peterson, John Edwards, Eliot Spitzer, Rod Blagojevich, Charles Rangel – and let’s not forget O.J.

And even if O.J.’s conviction were to get overturned on appeal, you still don’t know what the future holds for him. Plus, no one knows what his life has really been like all these years behind those TV shots of him yukking it up on the golf course. The fact is that the life of the world’s most insatiable social animal has been reduced to that of a leper for the past 14 years.

One last thing that crossed my mind as I watched the latest act in the O.J. drama play out on TV: What do all of these people have in common? Answer: Arrogance. No, incredible arrogance.

John Edwards ran for president while his wife was terminally ill and he was fathering a child with another woman. Governor Blagojevich openly invited bribes for Obama’s Illinois senate seat, even though he knew he was under criminal investigation. Eliot Spitzer enjoyed numerous encounters with prostitutes after spending years criminally prosecuting others for the same activity. And Charles Rangel, the man who serves as chairman of the committee that writes the tax code, “forgot” to pay taxes on his Dominican Republic property for 20 years!

I know, I know… it’s tempting to say, “When’s the karma going to kick in for all of the other guys who seem to have been escaping the consequences of their actions?” To that I would answer… be patient and watch as their lives unfold in the coming years. Remember, it hasn’t been that long ago that we were asking the same question about O.J.

The best thing you can do is forget about everyone else’s karma and focus on your own. And the best way to do that is to live every moment as though the whole world were watching.

[Ed. Note: Karma or no karma, good deeds and honest living make you a better person from the inside out. Of course, as with any worthwhile pursuit, becoming a better person takes work. Sometimes you need a little push to get yourself going… and some simple techniques to help you become the person you’ve always wanted to be. For a treasure chest of proven ideas, strategies, and techniques for increasing your income many times over, be sure to sign up for the Voice of Sanity e-letter.]

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Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is a New York Times #1 bestselling author and host of the highly acclaimed Liberty Education Interview Series, which features interviews with top political, economic, and social leaders. He has appeared on Fox News, Fox Business, The Tonight Show, Today, The Dennis Miller Show, Good Morning America, The Lars Larson Show, ABC Nightline, and The Charlie Rose Show, and has been the subject of feature articles in such major publications as Time, People, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Barron's, and The New York Times.