It seems to many that Sikhs in politics is a brand new development a product of the 21st century, with our recent migration to the west. I frankly disagree with that assessment. We are Sikhs, to the word Sikh means to learn, and only the way to learn is to question, to question those in power and their beliefs is very a political act. Sikhism from its very foundation with Guru Nanak in questioned the logic of the caste system when in his eyes all humans were the same, the idea that women are equal and that money should be earned honestly or not at all, ideas radical then and in many ways still are now. These challenges to power formalized after the execution of the Fifth Guru Arjan, his son Guru Hargobind set aside the seli topi (caps of holy men) asked for a sword i and the kalgi of a king instead. He was given one but it was put on the wrong side, so he asked for another as well. Those two swords would represent Miri and Piri, the need to be powerful in the spiritual world so as to know injustice, and the physical world so as to have the means to actively oppose it. With that Sikhism challenged the might of the Mughal empire and opposed the religious intolerance of it. Time and time again our faith challenged those that sought to oppress whether they were the Afghan kings or the British empire. To say being political is in conflict with our beliefs would ignore that long history of active opposition to injustice and oppression. No, to be political is a consequence of who we are, where we come from and what we believe.

I reject the right wing’s idea of patriotism, the flag waving ,military marching kind we see Americans often engage in, the love for symbols. Someone who speaks a different tongue, prays to a different being or calls another nation home these things do not matter. A greater indictment to our society is if someone on our soil is through no fault of their own is made experience poverty and injustice, they are a reflection of our failings, our need to do better by our fellow people. If a person truly loves their nation, that begins and ends with the humanity that inhabits it, to support programs that seek to reduce the divisions between people be they social,legal and economic, so that we not only see each other as different but live as such.

Ever since Quebec Charter of Values was thing a while ago. There has been a lot of backlash against religious accommodations for people. A select few people have been complaining that minorities are trying to change this country are “intolerant of us canadians”. Obviously those voices are quickly shut up, and labelled racist. What a lot of people instead adopt instead is the position of oh “Religion has no place in schools and the work place.” I call bullshit on this statement. It fails to convey the racist connotations, but many things as well. Take for the fact why isn’t school and a lot of workplaces open on Saturdays or Sundays. While many would argue that oh we need at least a couple days off of the week. Personally I don’t disagree with that. My problem is the days, in that they fall on Saturday which is shabbat for followers of Judaism and Sunday which is Sabbath for the followers of Christ. Now do I have a problem with that either no. No what I have a problem is the failure of many to recognize that many of society institutions are already religiously accommodating for judeo-christian beliefs. But they are designed so at a time when there wasn’t as much diversity in this country, and it was done subconsciously. There was no religious accomodation back then, the structures were designed around them. Now do we need to declare several new years holidays for various cultures such as chinese people, vaisakhi for sikhs or nowruz for persians? and declare any celebration by any culture or religion a public holiday? No while it would be nice, we wouldn’t get anything done. All that I am asking is people ought to be more tolerant to other groups, especially when they are simply asking for the same things others already have granted to them.

On Sikh Conservatives

Its not a question of if Sikhs are going to be political in this nation, that is inevitable, in that being duty bound to be involved with and serve the community, there are going to be some that will see fit to lead it. and they will and they have. Those that do however should not make common cause with conservatives. In doing so he must give up either being a Sikh or give up being conservative, that simply cannot co-exist without a person choosing one or the other. For it does not make sense to sit on the floor among as equals in langar on Sunday, yet sow further division among those same people the other 6 days of the week by cutting public services. Nor can he claim pride in the openness of his golden temple while working to close his nation to those in need of refuge from terror and strife. Nor can he claim to follow great man of past who opposed religious tyranny, yet seek to impose his own views on society, only replacing another’s religious philosophy for his own. Such people will claim their faith and heritage to gain votes, yet such people cannot be trusted for running with so they are either betraying one philosophy or the other.