The Humble often stand head and shoulders above others because by their very nature they are people who are afraid of heights. Looking only towards the heavens, they attain them, never having glanced down to see how high they have risen from the dark pit of pride.
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.
Throughout human history there is there was an element of untouchability that we applied to our fellow human beings, the belief that certain people were beneath others the fact their mere touch would be polluting. Such a system existed in India through caste, in japan as Burakumin, and often was culturally socially and religiously enforced. While this system was wrong, that is not to say untouchables do not exist. The true untouchable is not born as such, nor made to be. The true untouchable pollutes not with his body but with his mind his surroundings, he who chooses to divide our beautiful humanity, defiles the ideologies of unity to ones of division. The true untouchable is a product of choice, for he who is the one who chooses to hate.
Take a hurricane, a storm that stretches hundreds of miles wreaking destruction its path, Yet in the center lies the eye, a region of uncharacteristic calm unaffected by the havoc that surrounds it. Peculiar how nature allows such a contradiction, yet many a man does not, how they suffer in not allowing themselves to find a measure of peace despite the engulfing difficulties.
They speak of a god who created a man in his image, I cannot speak of the veracity of that statement. However man since his appearance shapes and continues to shape the world in his own likeness, it reflective of both the cruelties and gentilities so inflict his character. Man the sculptor and the earth his sculpture.
How the faithful forget themselves, what right do they have to possess the blindfold of ignorance in this life? Bowing to his holy books, he surrender his being to the knowledge within the calligraphy, those same eyes finding truth among scratches upon a page, yet not seeing the same within the humanity that surrounds him?
The religious tomes speak of a god creating man in his own image. I cannot speak of the veracity of that for its matter of faith and not facts. However what I do know is that man and his kind has and continues to, shape this world in his own reflecting both the great cruelties and compassion that resides within him.
Yesterday would have been the 258th birthday of a great hero of mine. William Wilberforce was a MP for Kingston upon Hull, first elected at age 21 while still a student University of Cambridge. While his early years in government were unremarkable, it would be later activities that earn him great acclaim. Beginning in 1787 he would wage a long campaign within parliament and outside of it, to end what is among the worst cruelties man has ever inflicted upon his species, the practice of slavery. Being informally involved with Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade, Wilberforce along with others would push for the abolishment of the practice of taking Africans from Africa and shipping them world wide for the purposes of slavery. This would be regarded as one of the first grassroots campaigns for human rights organized by people from a wide spectrum of society. The society hoped that by abolishing the trade in slaves that it would lead to a gradual end slavery through reduced supply. As part of his involvement he would in 1789 introduce the bill that would abolish slavery, it laid delayed for two years, where it was defeated by a vote of 163- 88. In a testament to his personal strength and conviction he would engage in campaign the lead to the successful 1807 Slave trade act that was passed by a vote 283-16. While this was an accomplishment in of itself he would continue to pursue the end of slavery in of itself through parliamentary action. In 1825 Wilberforce who was never in good health, at the age of 66 resigned from Parliament. He would still continue his involvement with Anti-Slavery societies, these efforts would lead to the introduction of Bill for the Abolition of Slavery in 1833 which sought to end the practice of slavery throughout the British Empire, that would result in the freeing of 800,000 slaves. Wilberforce having heard that the Bill would passed by Parliament and become law, would die just three days later on 29th of July 1833.
Never fall into the pit of pride, the day a man becomes proud is the day he has gained a thing he fears losing. Fear of loss is what drives the worst aspects of the human character. In his mind he has gained something, yet his soul has lost.
Of course people love rags to riches stories, but like many of the things humanity has claims to love it is a fantasy and a falsehood. It is fantasy that a person has the ability to change their present condition through hard work alone, it is an ideal but not a reality. The far more bitter truth is, that in this era of increasing inequality that people are not as able to change their economic conditions, that if not already, in the coming decades we will come to witness more people that will be born poor, live poor and die poor. That increasingly firmness of economic status and the discrimination based upon it will seem no less unjust as discrimination based upon race or gender. Human Rights as I have studied spoke much of the threat it posed to both political and legal systems and in turn changed them. That was human rights of the past, The human rights of the future will be a threat and bulwark to the economic system. Some would say that such a stance is revolutionary, perhaps it is, for like the sun or the hands of clock, revolutions are inevitable. That is but the nature of progress slow but unstoppable and like a wind when it blows, economic systems have a choice either to be build a windmill or build a wall.