Do I believe in superheroes? No, the older I have gotten, the more I have fallen in love with the idea that not the extraordinary or the supernatural has merely been imbued with human characteristics, rather the idea that within humanity lies the greatness. My heroes have always been real people.

Every man who takes the breathe of life, has conflict written for him. A boy makes his conflict about power and the school yard his battlefield he will be a bully, yet mere meters away another man makes war against ignorance and the classroom his front line, he emerges the teacher. It is the great separator of men, not race, nor class but what he fights for and where he stages it.

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.

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.