We are living in hard times. Around the world, weak-minded people are using religion as an excuse to persecute others for political gain. We see this with the Taliban of Afghanistan, the Anti-Semiticism in the United States, and most recently with the vandalism against the Siri Guru Granth Sahib at the Siri Harimandir Sahib in Amritsar, India. To disrespect and disrupt the ability of a group to worship the Divine in accordance with their own faith is actually one of the greatest offenses we can commit against our fellow human beings. Nobody has the right to interfere with another person’s worship.

The Sikh faith recognizes this principle: that the Light of the One Creator burns inside every House of Worship. This is why Guru Nanak, during his time, was respected and followed by people of every known religion. This is why the Siri Guru Granth Sahib is the first spiritual text that includes the writing of people from different faiths. True spiritual experience shows us there are many roads to God, and therefore we must respect all roads. It is only predators, and the politically corrupt who use religion as a weapon to turn one human being against another human being.

The swords placed before the Siri Guru Granth Sahib within every Gurdwara are there so that the Sikhs can defend our Guru against an attack. Only those sworn to defend the Guru have the right to touch those swords. Otherwise, taking that sword from in front of the Guru can and should be understood as a sign of hostility and aggression. But the swords are not only to protect the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. They are to protect the values enshrined within the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. The values of interfaith harmony, and of recognizing our common humanity as the highest spiritual bond of all. Therefore at this time let us also remember the majority of people from other communities are decent hearted people and it is they who we are also sworn to protect against aggressive actions.  

In the face of the aggression against the Siri Guru Granth Sahib at Siri Harimandir Sahib this week, my prayer is that the Sikh community will take this moment to not only defend itself, but to defend all those suffering from religious persecution. That the call of the Khalsa is not only for governments to protect the human rights of Sikhs to worship in freedom, but to protect the rights of all people to worship in freedom. As we stand up to assert our sovereignty to defend our way of life, let us do so for the entire human race - for Sarbat Da Bhala. Let us dedicate every meeting, every word and every action so that one day all people, no matter where they live, will feel protected and safe to worship the Creator according to their own consciousness and their own choice.

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