Recently National Sikh Campaign launched the “We are Sikhs” initiative. Where a vast amount of money was spent to make an Ad/PR campaign to educated the American population on what Sikhs are/stand for. All efforts to educate and spread awareness have their place and should be applauded, however I do believe we have started to cross the lines of what we should be standing for.
Money cannot win the hearts and minds of others, commercials cannot express the deepness of our beliefs. Historically Sikhs have consistently been underdogs, and under constant scrutiny either by the government or other forces. Never has a time come where Sikhs turned to self-preservation, they in fact did the opposite, the more they were taunted, the more they were hunted, it increased the self-sacrifice and service for others. This is where the mind shift is happening and where I begin to see a new problematic thinking emerging in Sikhs.
Just following the ideals of Sikhism would provide ample amplification of our values. There have been many examples of Sikhs doing just that and getting Viral posts with millions of views, Fauja Singh running for the charity, Ravi Singh going to Haiti and other remote areas to assist those in need, Balpreet Kaur’s exemplary response to an online bullying incident, and recently Angad Singh tying a turban in the middle of Times Square. Our core beliefs and values when practice in real life would/and will provide a free of cost understanding of who we are.
Are we putting our resources to best use? When we were younger we thought why do we have so many Gurdwara’s with such a small population, we wondered what was wrong with the previous generation wanting to build bigger and larger buildings when they did not agree with one another. This generation has a new challenge, we now understand that the brick and mortar are not the best use of our funds, however we must think and do some soul searching on what we are now doing. We are using our funds to educate others about us, sure this is a noble cause, and it may even have a place, but does it need to be the consistent focus? We have come a long way since 9/11 and our community has been reaching out since and has done a lot better than before, yet we continue to use attacks against us to make ourselves fearful.
Let’s truly introspect on what we are trying to achieve, what sort of community are we trying to become? Our glorious heritage is full of courageous acts, where Sikhs defied odds, not for their own gain or to make their lives easier, but to fulfill a larger destiny, for mankind.
The Sikh creed is to stand out, doesn’t matter if someone knows why or why not from first glance, every Sikh’s actions and words should change the hearts and minds. We ourselves are the commercials, we ourselves are the advertisement, we ourselves have the power to change the perception.