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Every week for the past several months, my mother and father prepared and donated 100 meals for their local food bank in San Antonio. As time passed and people learned about their efforts, their personal initiative turned into a small operation, bringing in food donations from all over the city.

Simran Jeet Singh

Opinion

When I asked my parents what moved them to give so generously, they replied matter-of-factly: “This is what we do. This is what our Sikh faith teaches us.”

While I saw their service as a unique expression of selflessness, they saw their actions as part of a long lineage of justice work, termed seva in the Sikh tradition.

Ever since its inception in 1469, Sikhism has been about finding injustices in the world and standing against them. The three core pillars of Sikhism — “Kirat Karo, Vand Chakko, Naam Japo”–– call on all Sikhs to earn an honest living, share and contribute to your communities, and remember the Divine constantly.

Sikhism’s founder, Guru Nanak Sahib, established the Sikh tradition with a firm commitment to justice. He observed deep inequities in the world around him and rejected them outright. Accordingly, Sikhs are taught that divisions such as caste, class, gender, and religion are mere social constructions, and that all of us are bound by a shared, divine light.

I Find Myself Drawn to the Progressive Movement

The Sikh Gurus didn’t just talk about equity. They lived it. For example, adherents of the Sikh faith share last names in furtherance of this core value of equality: Singh for men and Kaur for women. Sikhs adorn turbans to demonstrate  that all people deserve to be treated as royalty, regardless of circumstances or background. Women are recognized as equals:  it is a core tenet that men and women are equally divine.

When I look at the American political landscape, and apply the core teachings of my faith and its wisdom, I find myself drawn to the progressive movement.  Our Sikh faith calls on each of us to be saint-soldiers (sant-sipahi), an ideal that corresponds to the progressive movement’s social justice warrior.

This election is another battle that Sikhs must engage with fearlessness and clarity of vision. As citizens of this country, we must recognize that we are battling for the soul of this nation and that, no matter what happens, we must fight with all of our might for what is right. Over the past few months, we have seen millions of Americans take a stand against anti-Black racism and racial injustice. Meaningful movements like these require significant sacrifice, and this reminds me of Guru Nanak Sahib’s loving wisdom: “If you want to play the game of love, come to me with your head on your palm.” What he meant is that to live with love requires that we be ready and willing to make a sacrifice. This is what it means for us to live selflessly.

Our Sikh Tradition Teaches Us to Confront Inequities, Not to Perpetuate Them

In a moment where we are facing a growing tide of oppressions — racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, and all other forms of other-isms that are dividing this country — our only way out is to find connection. This is where it serves us to remember the Sikh principle of ik oankar. We are better when we stand together and see our shared humanity.

Our Sikh tradition teaches us to confront inequities, not to perpetuate them; to challenge bigotry and hate, not to participate in it; to serve the most vulnerable, not disenfranchise them. Our commitment as Sikhs is to set the bar higher and to seek a better world, not just for ourselves but for everyone. That’s why I am proud to vote for Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris in this election. Vice President Biden’s principled and compassionate leadership will further the causes of justice and equality that are core to our Sikh faith. Put simply, Joe Biden is the right person for this moment.

About the Author

Simran Jeet Singh, an American educator, writer, and activist, who frequently offers comment and analysis on religion, racism, and justice. Singh is a columnist for Religion News Service, host of the “Spirited” podcast, and a visiting professor of religion at Union Theological Seminary.  

8 Responses

  1. gurpreet singh

    these democrats are totally against the sikh learnings
    dems principle is ; loot the hardworkers and give to the criminals ,loafers,idlers
    their priciple destroy russia n now they are going to destroy usa
    they are really traitors of this country , and sikhs cant ever support traitors
    gurpreet singh nijjar

    Reply
  2. Manjit Singh

    I am ok with Biden but not with Kamal’s anti Sikh stand during her stint as Attorney General in CA. She told a Sikh job applicant to shave off his beard or go somewhere else. I don’t get why some Sikhs are ok with her stand and promote this alliance.

    Reply
  3. Inder Singh

    We must look at the big picture rather than small details. Which of the candidates represents the lesser evil, and better represents our interests and values. Trump supports Modi & BJP which is causing trouble for Sikhs and other minorities in India. They have ruined Punjab and made J&K into an apartheid state. I support Biden/Harris this election cycle.

    Reply
  4. Billy

    Progessives are the same as socialists they are not about the values that Sikhs are about they create divisions with racism. They make everything into a race issue, i have had my indian and black friends screamed out for being conservative republicans by these white Progressives. Apparently conservative blacks and black cops lives don’t matter, Progressives are hypocrites Singh is a rare oddity the majority of Sikh people are either very conservative and pro American working hard to make our community better or they are conservative democrats miles away for the progressive socialist policies of Bernie Sanders, AOC and Ilhan Omar who hate America, hate our history and clearly support socialism (communism)

    Reply
  5. Ajay

    If you as a Sikh- with beard and turban. wanted to work as a federal agent at a state prison you would be denied that under Kamala Harris. Just because you didn’t have to go through that maybe because you have a rich Dad who pays your bills, there are others that need to provide for their families and getting cut from a job just because of your religious beliefs is not acceptable. Kamala is anti Sikh and an anti black imo. She’s all Indian and black now all of the sudden to get votes. Anti Biden as well in the primaries now she loves him lol. What A hypocrite and selfish person she is.

    Reply
  6. Bobby Mehat

    Any Sikh who follows Guru Sahib will never vote for democrats. They are a God less party that mislead people with sweet talk which will destroy the middle class and had already. They own the fake media and if you are not thinking with Guru Sahib’s teachings you are doomed. If Sikhs think their tax money should be spend on infanticide then go for it and vote Democrats. But atleast stop pretending and stop saying ਅਸੀਂ ਸਰਬਤ ਦਾ ਭਲਾ ਮੰਗਦੇ ਹਾਂ after every ardas. If we’re not willing to stand up for life, then what else are we gonna be able to have any value in?

    Reply
  7. T Singh

    I am ok with Biden but not Kamala Harris. She did not think that sikh with turban and beard is fit for prison guard. As she claims indian heritage, she could not be so biased against sikhs.
    Democrats are hypocrate as they call for diversity but do not practice themselves. It is shameful that sikhs whom she discriminated will vote for her. It is free country and I respect every choice but this is my viewpoint.

    Reply
  8. JASWANT S BAWA

    As we all know that Kamala Harris, while she was AG in Ca, played racist and now she wants my vote, No way. She told one of my Sikh brother that if he wants a job, he has to shave his beard and remove turban. Suddenly, she now becomes anti racist. This Democratic party is full of demons and they want their way or highway. Sikhs , basically, are conservatives and have values that resonate with Republicans. All Democrats want to do is let everyone come into this beautiful country and destroy it. I am not against immigration but it has to be done nicely. I came here as an immigrant and went to school and earned my living and paid taxes but these Demons want these illegal immigrants to come in and work but not pay taxes and send money to their home country. That is not fair. Nobody who is reading this, should vote the Democrat.

    Reply

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