This next bit will go down easier if you imagine you are in a smoke-filled room. You see me standing on a stage holding a microphone. Got it? And it’s even better if you’ve had a couple of drinks.
“I’m anti-panda. Don’t hate me. It’s an unpopular stance, but hear me out on this. I’m just not buying into all the hype about pandas being an endangered species because their habitat is being destroyed. You want to know the real reason pandas are endangered? They are endangered because they don’t like to mate. Seriously. It’s an entire species that doesn’t like sex. And in the unlikely event that they do mate, the mother will probably abandon the cub or roll over it and squish it in her sleep. They are depressed. They are a suicidal species. It’s the only explanation.
In fact,t he only reason pandas are still around is that humans spend millions of dollars to artificially inseminate them and then, we hand-raise their young. If the shoe were on the other foot, do you think they would help us out that way? I doubt it. You know why? We aren’t cute enough. See? That’s something else that bugs me about pandas. They are getting by on just their looks. We let ugly animal species die out all the time, but pandas are so cute and cuddling. We just looooove the panda. Have you ever heard of an Anegada Ground Iguana? No? Well, they are endangered, too, and no one is rushing to inseminate them. You know why? They’re ugly.
You know what else gets me about pandas? All they eat is bamboo. Ask any species that is a survivor and they will tell you, they aren’t so picky. Cockroaches will eat anything. The same is true of people. Imagine if humans decided to eat only bacon. We’d run out of it. We’d have mayhem, and there would be no out-cry from the panda-community. ‘We must preserve the bacon groves! For the humans!’ But pandas, they sit around eating bamboo and growling at other pandas, and we think they are so damn cute.
Of course, I’ve been talking about the GIANT panda, not the RED panda. Poor little red pandas. I say, ‘panda’ and I bet no one here thought about a little red raccoon-like creature hanging out in a tree. The only imagine in your head was the fat, black and white bear eating bamboo, right? Talk about an animal with a name-recognition problem. All the red pandas should pool their money and hire a PR firm.”
Now for the disclaimer: I’m not really anti-panda. I wrote that bit when I was working up the courage to do a comedy routine at an open-mic night. In the end, open-mic night was cancelled and I never did a stand-up act, but I still consider it some of my best material. I know, you are thinking, “Best material? Oh, God! She is lucky they cancelled that event.”
I’m also anti-karma. I’m not joking this time, and it’s probably a less popular admission than being anti-panda.
I don’t really mind people believing that they will reap what they sow if the result is that they hold themselves to a higher standard of behavior—in fact, that is a Biblical principle right out of Galatians. It’s when it’s turned outward on the rest of the world that I have a problem with it. On any given day, I hear people invoking karma with phrases like “he’ll get his” and “what goes around comes around” and it comes across as being a little petty. Basically, they are saying that someone did something that hurt or angered them and so now, they are hoping bad things happen to that person. See what I mean about petty? Wishing anyone ill for any reason is NOT taking the high road.
Sure, I guess it is part of human nature to want to seek justice when we feel we have been slighted, and perhaps when we feel we have no recourse, we want God or fate or karma to intervene and smite the offender in some Old Testament-style, Whoop-Ass way or maybe just zap them with a flat tire the next time they are in a hurry. Just because a certain thought pattern comes easy to us, however, doesn’t mean it is right.
In fact, I’m pretty sure that God would want us to behave very differently. I think God would want us to pray for that person. Be kind to them. I think God would tell you to forgive “seven times seventy times” as opposed to hoping that person is struck by lightning or bitten by a shark.
Before you start thinking that I am sounding way too preachy or Pollyanna-ish here, let me confess that if you have pissed me off lately, there is a good chance that I’m imagining your plane going down in flames. Hear that, neighbor-whose-construction-equipment-is-currently-blocking-access-to-my-barn? Flames! Okay, that’s a bit extreme. I’m not really wishing a plane crash on my neighbor, but I do wish he would at least ask if it is okay for the crew to park in the barn driveway. I’d say, “Yes.”
Seriously, I am as guilty as the next person of wanting poetic justice. Sometimes, that desire is rooted in my understanding of fairness. Sometimes, I just want that person who has hurt me to learn a lesson, and while wanting to educate a person sounds altruistic, it’s actually a bit smug of me to think I know what someone else needs in the way of life lessons.
As for the fairness, ha! People who expect life to be fair are going to be disappointed—a lot. For that reason alone, it’s a mistake to compare your circumstances with anyone else’s. It doesn’t stop me from doing so, but that’s just one of my many flaws.
Then, of course, there is the reality that we all screw up. We all hurt people. We all make mistakes. We don’t follow through on every commitment, and sometimes, we are just absent in a crisis. I am so guilty of all these things and so much more. I hate to think that I’m going to get what I deserve. I hate to think that some cosmic force is keeping track of all my transgressions and that I will be held accountable for them. If I don’t want that for me, why would I want that for someone else?
You see, the more I think about this concept of “what goes around comes around,” I don’t like it. I like forgiveness.
Without forgiveness, we might as well be a bunch of pandas—eating bamboo and growling at each other. ‘Cuz that’s what pandas do. Growl.
(Quick: Here’s the link to the World Wildlife Fund! Make a donation. I don’t want pandas or karma coming after me for making fun of them. Thank you.)