Dr. Jasmit Singh provided the opening Interfaith Leader’s reflection for Interfaith Advocacy Day 2021. See the recording of this event on FAN’s YouTube page.

Good Morning and Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa | Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh ||

It is so wonderful to see so many volunteers from across the state representing different faith traditions join today for the Interfaith Advocacy Day.  I want to thank FAN, Elise, Paul and the FAN Board for putting this day together.  I wanted to share with you a reflection on why it is so important for us to use our voices – to speak up on issues that affect all our communities.

The Sikh tradition emphasizes the concept of seva i.e. service to humanity.  The word Sewa means ‘selfless service’. It involves acting selflessly and helping others in a variety of ways, without any consideration of reward or personal gain. The intent of sewa is that it cultivates the virtues of truth and truthful living, compassion and patience, contentment, humility, love, empathy and the courage to act.  These are the values that we need in our world today.

We live in times where more than anything we need to heal a fractured world around us.  The last 12 months have taught us that a pandemic can completely disrupt our lives and way of living causing immense hardship to the elders and the most vulnerable sections of the society who struggle to keep their homes and put food on their table. We saw how our healthcare system was brought to its knees and the people providing the front line services were put at considerable risk. All of this has caused irrevocable changes to our economy, environment, education system, job market and only exacerbated the wealth inequities in our society.

We have also seen the pandemic of soul rise once again and challenge us to address racist policies and reform or dismantle institutions that dehumanize, and systematically marginalize Black people. We were compelled to confront the reality of how black bodies and black lives have long been devalued in many areas of life. We have seen families and communities polarized by their political beliefs where meaningful dialog has given way to violence and ugliness in discourse.

And as citizens of the world, we today see one of the biggest protest in history on the outskirts of Delhi in India where millions of farmers and farm workers from across India have spent the last 80 days in the bitter winter cold on streets protesting agricultural reforms that threaten their livelihood.  They sit there far away from their farms and families waiting to be heard and are subjected to hate, violence and intimidation despite the loss of life. Similarly, Myanmar is once again struggling with the authoritarian rule by its Military Junta quashing the aspirations of democracy.

Rev. King had said “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter”  So what can we do today as we come together for a day of action and meet our leaders? We must share our stories and make our voices heard, our actions must tell them how we stand for compassion and empathy for those who cannot be here today.

We are all instruments of change and today we ask the light, God Almighty, to give us the inner strength, the courage to help our communities build a more compassionate just world.

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa | Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh ||