I remember doing seva in langar as a kid, while doing it the only time you looked at another persons plate was to see if it was if it was empty and if it was you made sure it was filled but if it was filled you never took it away. While I don’t spend as much time there, nor am I as religious that particular concept always resonated with me. That governing belief I have carried throughout of my life in that the only time you should look at others to see if they have enough, if not, see to it they do.
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.
In my culture when a person is dead they are burned, that how it is, that how it should be. Yet in forgetting forgiveness, in holding on to their hate, their anger so many come to lie in their funeral pyres long before their time. Flames recognizing neither the dead nor alive consume a man all the same. It is up to a man how he wants to meets that fire, at peace and at rest or in a state of turmoil and alive.
What right the Sikh have to live this life in willful ignorance? He who bows to a book, calls his almighty the teacher and himself the student, to which his relationship is one based upon his own enlightenment and not his own enslavement.