In the fall of 2005, after a summer of purposeful unemployment, I found work on Fort Drum military base delivering and putting together office furniture for the soldiers and their barracks. I got paid well, but the work was rather grueling and I found myself feeling down and depressed, especially once the winter hit. I often also found myself working next to the same guy, day after day.
He was short and round with a sweet innocent face and was studying to be a minister and always so positive and happy. I started to envy his naivete and his kindly disposition, although I never let on. One day I was explaining to him why I felt so down.
He said God is good and God would help me. I told him God didn’t exist and just as I said it, I tripped over some cardboard and fell flat on my face. He laughed until he turned red. He started calling me Captain Karma.
I learned something that day that has stuck with me all these years. I still don’t believe in God, but I realized that denouncing God in front of someone who deeply believed wasn’t necessary. You can say things without actually saying them. It takes tact, intelligence, and craft, but you can get your point across without being stark and overconfident. I started trying to be less Captain Karma, and more like my coworker studying to be the minister.
He never pushed his beliefs on me. He knew where I stood, and I knew where he stood, and no matter how frustrated or angry I became while we had these deep theological conversations at work, he never faltered. He remained even-keeled, well-spoken, and always understanding.
We came from two completely different worlds but got along because we treated each other fairly and with respect, something I had to learn from falling onto my face and earning my new nickname. I kept my ridiculous broad sweeping generalizations to myself after that and spent more time listening and honestly asking questions, instead of yelling about the lack of his understanding and tried to find the answers to my questions.
The guy’s name was Travis and I can’t stop thinking about him and our conversations during this pandemic. Considering no one calls me Captain Karma anymore I’m ready to bequeath the nickname to our current President because I think he’s tripped over the cardboard and fallen on his face enough times to have earned it.
Although no one is laughing and certainly no one is using his blunders to enlighten a congregation, the fact remains that the broader sweeping generalizations this man makes to grate the media, grate his detractors, and stoke his own ego are actually coming back in a way that could be considered karma.
There are literally hundreds of times where fact checks have proven that Trump himself has spread disinformation, something that he consistently blames the media for. Abuse of trust of the general public is hardly considered a high crime in the courts, but from someone who is concerned with their moral obligation, this should be one of the worst things anyone can do. Yet those of high moral concern, an obligation that is supposed to come with most religious affiliations, still stand in support.
The President has touted on too many occasions to list that during his presidency has been the lowest unemployment rate when in actuality it hasn’t. That was in 1944. But it has been low, lower than we had been used to.
But now it’s high. Suddenly, 3.3 million people had to file for unemployment. That’s because we as a nation weren’t prepared for this pandemic and the base of individuals who defend this man decided to listen to him instead of epidemiologists when he said on February 28th in South Carolina at a rally that the Democrats were politicizing this and making it their new hoax. He said it was more like the common flu and again blamed the media for being in “hysteria mode”.
On the night of November 9th, 2016 many of us hung our heads defeatedly. Some of us gathered around the water cooler the next day and said things like “America is doomed” or “Politics will never be the same”. I never heard anyone say that there was no God, or that Trump was the devil or anything like that, but the impending apocalyptic doom was there because you don’t need to say it to get your point across.
You can say things without saying them exactly. The man took office and did the opposite, throwing his bravado, machismo, and brashness around like a cartoon character. The impending apocalyptic doom grew and grew until we entered his last year. Typical Trump fashion, that day on February 28th, amid supporters cutely adorned with fresh MAGA gear, he again took no prisoners upon Novel Coronavirus and the US media, becoming his usual laudy self in a canonical hour and twenty minutes.
It’s just over a month later. The country is in the tailspin many of his detractors said would happen, there’s a virus that’s taken over from his carelessness; call it ignorance or call it karma, it doesn’t matter anymore. The big free economy he’s touted is being supported by government handouts, something that he and his Republican supporters have always protested against.
Unemployment is headed in a terrible direction with no end in sight with hundreds of thousands of people closing up their non-essential shops. Schools are closed. The stock market is barely hanging on as the top five companies keep each other afloat, a direct correlation to the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer while they worry about their mortgage, their children, and their health.
He’s Captain Karma alright, a profligate leading during tempestuous times. His zealots stand firmly behind him, watching in red, white, and blue as the country falls apart, Trump’s karma coming back to claw at him, but he smoothly sidesteps it, somehow not receiving the brunt of the biggest punch. Karma is supposed to come back to the individual, not the ones they lead, and somehow this doesn’t seem to bother the ones who are supposed to know the difference between our savior apparent and the devil himself.
It makes me think of Travis and wonder if he can still believe in God.