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Dear Mr Trump

An Open Letter from SARBPREET SINGH

 

 

 





Dear Mr. Trump,

I have to confess that I did not vote for you. However, you won the election and therefore I address you as my President.

As a Sikh-American I have to tell you that the few days following your election have brought back powerful feelings of disquiet that I and my fellow Sikhs experienced both in the aftermath of 9-11 and of the Oak Creek shootings.

As we reeled from the attacks on the twin towers, Sikhs all over America (over mistaken identity) as well as Muslim-Americans were vilified and attacked.

Eleven years later we were horrified when a hate filled white-supremacist bigot walked into a Gurdwara in Wisconsin and opened fire, taking the lives of gentle Sikh souls at worship whose only crime was that they looked ‘different’.

As I reflect back on those dark days, the inevitable feelings of shock, horror and helplessness are transcended by two glorious expressions of our shared humanity that gave me hope and strengthened my faith in the values of this great nation that has been my home for the greater part of my life.

Six days after 9-11, President George W. Bush visited the Islamic Center of Washington DC and unequivocally condemned the targeting of Muslims in the aftermath. As a Sikh I cannot even begin to explain how profound President Bush’s gesture seemed and the extent to which it reassured me that the expansive and egalitarian heart of America continued to beat as strongly as ever.

In the aftermath of the Oak Creek shootings something almost miraculous happened in Boston, where I live. The overwhelming compassion that the horrible act drew from the Interfaith community inspired me to organize a Sikh service at Trinity Church in Boston, where fifteen hundred Muslims and Jews, Catholics and Protestants stood shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with their Sikh brethren and broke bread with them, affirming that the bonds of our common humanity were powerful and enduring. That egalitarian heart of America was a palpable presence in Trinity Church that day.

Mr. Trump, it saddens me to say a few days after the election, the heart does not seem to be beating as it should be.

Swastikas on the doors at the New School. Calendar invites for daily lynchings at U Penn. Threats in Michigan to set a young Muslim woman’s hijab on fire. Sixth graders in LA being mocked and threatened with deportation by a substitute teacher. A US postal worker in Massachusetts screaming at a customer, insisting that he ‘go home’.

Even as a Sikh, armed with the enduring strength of my faith and the unique principle of Chardi Kalaa -- ever ascending high spirit -- it is difficult for me to not experience some despair. My children were born in this country. They know no other home. What sort of nation will they inherit? What anxieties and petty humiliations await them because of their ‘otherness’?

Trust me, I am not alone in feeling this.

There are many who would say that you had a hand in unleashing the hounds of bigotry that bay unabashedly about us. Honestly, I don’t care because what happens next is much more important.

You will be the President of those who turned out in record numbers and voted you into office, but you need to remember that you will also be the President of those who did not. Even more importantly you are accountable to those Americans who feel particularly vulnerable today, buffeted by the powerful winds of change that have unlocked the gates of the most powerful office in the world for you.

Ultimately, you will be judged neither by your most ardent followers nor those who vilify you in the strongest terms. You will be judged by history.

How will President Trump be remembered? As the demagogue who stood idly by as the lunatic fringe that flew his colors systematically dismembered the egalitarian ideals that are the underpinnings of this great nation? Or perhaps as the visionary leader who embodied the best attributes of the millions of decent and god fearing people who handed him the keys to the kingdom.

The choice is yours to make and your words and actions in the next few weeks will impact the lives of millions. There are many like me hope that you will take the latter path and wish you every success and chardi kalaa as you begin your journey.

I leave you with these words from Guru Tegh Bahadar -- the Ninth Guru of the Sikhs, who was no stranger to adversity himself -- uttered in 1672 as he girded up for the fight against intolerance:

Bhai kahu ko det naeh / naeh bhai manat aan”: None do I seek to frighten, nor am I afraid.

I hope these powerful words will illuminate your path.


The author is a playwright, commentator and poet, who has been writing while pursuing a career in technology for several years. He is the author of ‘Kultar’s Mime‘, a poem about the 1984 Sikh Genocide. He is the founder and director of the Gurmat Sangeet Project, a non-profit dedicated to the preservation of traditional Sikh music. He serves as a spiritual advisor at Northeastern University.


[Courtesy: The Huffington Post. Edited for sikhchic.com]
November 26, 2016

 

Conversation about this article

1: Brig. (Retd) Nawab Singh Heer (Davenport, Iowa, USA), November 26, 2016, 1:43 PM.

A very honest and forthright letter to US President-elect. The ruckus unleashed by Mr Trump's statements has given impetus to white chauvinism and anti-immigrant sentiment. Unfortunately, on such occasions, the axe tends to fall on us Sikhs, often on mistaken identity. All I can say is that let us not generate fear, but generate caution, awareness and unification amongst all Sikhs. We must always live in chardi kalaa for Waheguru will do good to all of us.

2: Fatehpal Singh Tarney (Boca Raton, Florida, USA), November 28, 2016, 4:19 AM.

This is a very passionate, well-written and timely letter. I hope that a friend or relative of Nikki Haley's reads this and passes it on to her and she, in turn, passes it on to someone in Trump's inner circle. It might have some impact.

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