Religion is as much a symptom of injustice as a cause of it. Why else would people place faith in an unseen being that will help them? Perhaps because they cannot place faith in their fellow man to help them, to believe in a divine justice rather than one of human origin. Rather ironic that the very thing religion thrives on, is the very thing it seeks to eliminate. Religion is as much a reminder of the failure of a society as it is of its virtues.

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.