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How to Bridge the Divide



During the late evening of August 7, a man of Sikh faith was attacked and told, “Go back to your country” while putting up a campaign sign for a California congressional candidate. A week later, another man from the Sikh religion was stabbed to death in his store in East Orange, New Jersey. These are just two of several high-profile episodes of bigotry and hate against members of the Sikh tradition.

This past Friday I went to a program hosted by the members of the Sikh religion held at a Gurdwara, their place of worship. It was an opportunity for community members of all faiths as well as those who are not part of any faith to get to know more about the Sikhs. I was privileged to give a brief talk on how all faiths of the world can come together to increase better understanding. During my talk I shared a story of a classmate of mine from law school who came from the heart of the South, had a heavy southern accent, and seemed to be the stereotypical bigoted southerner. My biases showed up as I made uninformed judgment without knowing anything about him. To make a long story short, I reluctantly had to work closely with this person on a project and got to know him along the way. He ended up being one of the most generous, open-minded, intelligent and heart-felt people I had ever met. I realized that if I had not gotten to know my classmate on a more personal level, I would have held onto my limited view of him and would have missed having this extraordinary person in my life.

More often than not we tend to fear what we do not understand. Although the fear is irrational, it can lead to beliefs and actions such as the attacks on the Sikhs that took place in California and New Jersey. We must learn to listen so we may close the divide that seems so intense in our country and in our world today. We are here to alleviate the separation between religions, cultures, races, political parties and all other human-made illusions of division.

As we begin realizing we all come from the same source of one Creator, we begin to download the “Beloved Community.” The Beloved Community is an idea popularized in the 1960’s by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. about a place where all men and women realize they are brothers and sisters and operate together in peace. It is the place in which we live as though the boundaries that separate have disappeared. It is a vision that all the great mystics and spiritual leaders have seen through the ages.

If we merely look at the surface appearances of our world, it may seem like such a vision is just a pipe dream. However, if we look closer, we can find many examples of the manifestation of Dr. King’s vision. It is particularly heartening to see many of the emerging generation demonstrate what is possible for our communities and our world.

Each of us can do our part to bring about the Beloved Community and bring about a stronger vibration on our planet. As we bring forward our love ethic and rebel against business as usual, we create greater understanding between all people and provide a space for the Beloved Community to spread like wild fire.

Peace and Blessings,

James

#sikh #understanding #belovedcommunity

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