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Karma and blaming the victim
One aspect of karma that always troubled me is that it seemed to justify blaming the victim. Karma, as I understand it, means that negative actions taken in a previous life will 'ripen' in a future life as various misfortunes. Thus if we consider a victim of some horrible disease, crime or disaster, can we say to ourselves, "So-and-so must have done something horrible in a previous life! He must deserve his fate" and then leave him to the consequences of his actions?
I've heard some discussion of this, but it seems to be rarely directly addressed. It seems to run counter to the emphasis on compassion in Buddhism. I've heard that the Buddha condemned the caste system in India, which is based on a notion of karma similar to what I've stated (or so I'm led to believe), but I have not run across any sutras that address this.
I have encountered two counter arguments to this notion. The first is simply that it is not compassionate to ignore a victim of karma or to tell him that he got what he deserves. The other, more complicated argument, is that karma is only one force in the world and that said victim might be the object of other natural laws than just karma. Since we can not know whether his fate is based or karma, we can not pass judgement on him and he deserves our compassion.
I find the above explanations only partially satisfactory. Are my thoughts off base on this?