The only thing necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men to do nothing.
- Popular saying (misattributed to Edmund Burke)
A lady saw a male colleague secretly and regularly siphoning company money into his personal account. As he ranked higher, she did not disclose him, fearing that he would simply deny her accusations and even make work life more difficult for her. To avoid repercussions, she could had been be an anonymous whistleblower to upper management though. However, she merely nursed resentment against him, while ranting on about the ongoing theft to her family and friends – complaining futilely to almost everyone else, other than the right persons. When encouraged to speak up, she simply says she firmly believes in the law of karma, that the evil will eventually and naturally bear the bitter fruits of their actions, and that if she reveals his crimes, she might create negative karma instead, as he has a family to look after. Unfortunately, partly due to the embezzlement, the company later collapsed!
This is a classic case of misunderstanding and thus misapplication of the workings of karma. It is true that given enough time, with the continual lack of repentance and presence of appropriate conditions, the long arm of karma is going to reach and nab the guilty guy. If so, what were the lady’s misgivings? Her big mistake was hesitation to point out his big mistakes, thus allowing their perpetuation. What is the harm in this? The apathy was as if a silent nod to let him continue stealing funds, which led to the loss of the company, along with the jobs of others in it, including hers. This is how much damage unchecked evil can lead to. When one in effect condones another’s misgivings, even by intentional inaction, it is a misgiving too. To some extent, she indirectly led to the downfall of the company, when she could had been an active and wisely operating instrument of karmic justice to save the day.
Did she have a point that disclosure might lead to his family having trouble? Well, the many others affected have families too, and a criminal who gets away scot-free is likely to become a repeat-offender, thus putting himself, more families and companies into greater harm’s way later. A little jail time as a sooner wake-up call is surely better than a longer sentence later. It is always better to deter the growth of negative karma when it is easier too, just budding. Karma created is negative only when the intention of the action is evil, based upon greed, hatred and delusion. If she addressed the issue without these three poisons, but as guided by compassion and wisdom for him, his family and the company, she would not had created any negative karma at all; but plenty of positive karma instead – from safeguarding more. Ironically, her speech motivated by spite about his misdeeds did create negative karma!
If the right way to understand karma
is to let everything take its course,
it would have been wrong
for the Buddha to teach about karma.