Going nowhere fast
April 15, 2013 § 1 Comment
Guru Piarey jio,
Globally the Panth reacts to the Indian government’s Vaisakhi gift to us, i.e., planned hanging of Professor Bhullar. But are we going about it in the right way??
Currently thousands of Sikhs are gathering in London to join those who have been on a three-day vigil outside 10 Downing Street and together they will be marching to the Indian Embassy. In total, we’d estimate that around 100,000 hours of time and effort of Sikhs has been expended in this initiative. And do we expect it to get any results?
Let’s establish some facts. Firstly, the protest at 10 Downing Street took place at a time when the Prime Minister David Cameron was in Germany with his family. He wasn’t even there. Secondly, David Cameron was recently in India in order to beg India to not just leave Britain by the wayside as it establishes a ‘strategic partnership’ with America. Whilst in India, never did he raise the question of Sikhs on death row. Frankly, we don’t think he cares too much about appeasing British Sikhs, at least not enough to let it interfere with wooing Indian business. Thirdly, the British Parliament doesn’t care. The Kesri Lehar, even after getting over 100,000 signatures, only managed to get about 12 MPs to listen to its tabled debate, around 10 of those were planning to speak on the issue in any case, i.e., 10 people who know about an issue ‘raising’ awareness to 2 people who might also have known about it.
Is there any part of the above that makes you want to scream out and ask “Why are we trying to get Britain (who doesn’t care) to put pressure on India (cares even less) to then order its independent judiciary, i.e., the Supreme Court, to change its entire policies and make a mockery of its previous judgements?
Here’s our considered perspective. All of this is simply a scam. We are being ‘made to’ use up all our energies on totally unrealistic projects.
Why? Well lets look at what happens when we spend so much of our time this way.
(1) We continue thinking of ourselves as the victims. We keep begging for justice. This victim mentality is not the Khalsa mentality and so mentally we are kept as slaves.
(2) We are not inviting any kirpa by Guruji. Guruji never once begged anyone for justice and nor did the Singhs of old. So why would Guruji be impressed with this current display and bless us?? This is actually a disrespect to his royal and sovereign form. We need kirpa to succeed but kirpa only comes when he is pleased with us.
(3) The young and passionate youth, who are prepared to stay up all night, organize etc, this is actually killing their spirit. They will slowly start to see that there are no results and once they are burnt out, they will end up going home and thinking, “Its all useless.” They will never get to experience the joy of actually working on a project that has a chance of success, and then seeing that to fruition, which in turn would fuel them to greater and more successful projects. Success breeds success, but dejections breeds dejected youth.
So who gains from this? Our enemies do of course! They want us to spend all spare time running around being very busy but actually, we’re running on the spot and going nowhere. This ensures that we remain where they want to keep us.
Lets imagine a scenario. There is fire in our house in London, and also a fire our Parents house in India. Now, all our family is running around scared about this fire in our house here and actually the water to put the fire out is just two houses away. But some of our family members here in the UK (the vocal ones) gather us all around and say, listen, our Parents are being burnt right now in India and the Indian Fire Service is not responding. We all need to come together and get the UK fire service to call up the Indian Fire Service to go put out the fire in our house in India. But crucially the phone is in our house, but we cant go inside our house as its burning, so lets all march up to the UK Fire service right now.
Now what would most of us say to the above idea? We personally would suggest that we deal with the fire close at hand, get the water and put it out. Then we use the phone in our house to call the fire services or perhaps even call some friends in India and arrange a personal firefighting team. In any case, we’re going to be homeless and resource-less if we don’t first save our house here.
The maxim is this – pick your battles wisely and fight things that you can win and as you do that, you’ll get strong and more used to winning and then you might be able to fight other bigger battles.
In the words of Stephen Covey (Seven Habits), we have two spheres, a sphere of concern which is very big and a sphere of influence which is much smaller. If we operate within our sphere of Influence, then we will grow that sphere. Operate within the Sphere of concern and we will not be effective.
So what is our home? What battles can we fight and win? What will make us stronger and more confident about achieving bigger things?
The Gurdwara. That’s our root, that our shared home. That’s our community rallying centre, community organizing centre and spiritual guidance centre. what is the situation with our Gurdwaras? Are they on fire?
Sikhi is not being taught there. Gurbani is being sold as a ritual ‘earn karma’. People are reading words they don’t understand to people who understand even less. Kids are being bored to death in Punjabi classes. Food is not fit for Sant Sipahis and is more of a show-off than to feed the needy. Granthees are treated like slaves but come and go anonymously. Committees are full of non-sevadaars., to whom you wouldn’t even entrust your child. There are no professional educational courses in Sikhi. Financial and organizational mis-management is endemic. Youth are rarely involved. Sevadaars are being turned away and dis-illusioned. Money wasted on bigger Gurdwaras with less community spirit. All of this and much much more is commonplace across the world.
But just imagine how many people and the total sum of financial resources that sit in the hands of the UK Sikhs alone. 500,000 people, mostly middle class, with hundreds of buildings and more. We’re sure it’s close to, if not beyond, £1bn sterling. Why is then that we are so dis-organised? Why are we unable to take the problems above and make our Gurudwaras the havens of Sikhi. We’ve already published a post called “Gurudwara Experience”. Why cant the Gurdwaras be more like those than how they are currently?
Our answer is two-fold.
(1) We’ve been made to look elsewhere for the solution. They want to keep us busy running on the spot so not only are we very busy but we never achieve anything.
(2) We ourselves are trying to hide our heads in the sand and not face up to our root problems. Its too difficult to change our Gurdwaras, its ‘Real’ work and involves constant sacrifice. Going on a rally and march is much more entertaining and we know our family and friends will come along.
As a Panth, we’ve become emasculated and un-empowered. We don’t feel we can make a difference in our local gurdwara systems and we feel so frustrated by this that shouting at people who also don’t care actually sounds like a good idea. The people who give us these good ideas like to be at the front on the camera exhorting us to come down in support of our brothers and sisters, a guilt trip that’s always guaranteed to work since we have so much collective guilt about our response to 1984.
So, aren’t we just doing what they want us to do? Run on the spot, stay where we are and never fight the fire in our own house? Some people are fighting the right battle though and we need to learn from them.
Look at the youth in Vancouver, they have taken over their Gurudwaras, they are serving the sangat with true Sikhi. A nine year-old girl there recently finished her own sehat paat of Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji. Lots of people turned up for the Bhog ceremony.
Now think if we would do the same if a 9 year old girl in the UK read a 1430 page long English book. Of course not. Why not? Because apparently English is easy but Gurmukhi is hard. But when you teach kids to read Gurmukhi, its much easier for them to learn it as it’s a very phonetic language, as compared to English which is not.
Well you can see our problems, a generations of passionate but un-informed youth, who cant read or understand what they bow down to, don’t know the family tree of the founders, do not have opportunity to do this at their Gurdwaras and are having to scrape by on learning using youtube, mp3s and google.
Where does the solution lie? Right at our very hands, in the places where we go weekly, where Sikhi is very rarely seen. Our Doors to Enlightenment. We need to reform these into spiritual and social educational centres where activism is not just encouraged but organized and delivered. When the fire in these homes gets put out, then we will be able to organize effectively to start fighting the bigger fires.
That’s not to say that we don’t support other organisations doing vital work. A good example of mis-directed resources is the recent “walk for Freedom” organized by Insaaf in both London and California. Here in London, we only had around 20 people turn up and yet as this article is being written, thousands upon thousands of Sikhs are marching to the Indian Embassy in London. Insaaf is actually working to collect data about the aftermath of 1984 in Punjab. It’s vital work shines with the legacy of Jaswant Singh Khalra. How do we think they feel when only 20 UK Sikhs turned up to support them? Probably not great.
There is a sad prediction we can make. Those thousands of Sikhs marching right now will be back again in just 2 months to march at the 29th anniversary of June 1984 and Insaaf and all the other organisations like Khalsa Aid, SOPW, United Sikhs, Seva84, PDL etc is still be woefully underfunded given the mountain they are trying to conquer.
Guru Piare jio, its not enough for us to want to wake up the youth, we need to keep the youth active in relevant and fulfilling seva. Effective Seva. Vital and needed Seva, the seva of reforming our houses, our Guru Ghars, putting out the flames of kaljug that are working to hide the Truth that was revealed to us about how to banish all dis-order and chaos and bring to the forefront something never seen before, an army of saint soldiers desiring only to serve and encourage others to chant the Name of their Creator.
May the King of Kings bless his children on this Vaisakhi that they get back to the sovereign ways he prescribed and start the real fight ahead. With each victory, may he bless his beloved army with more desire to chant his Name and fight the righteous battle ahead.