Tribalism is Overrated

Again, we are in the 21st century....

Let me first start out by saying, Happy belated Black History Month. I created this infographic in order to help build a bridge between the Punjabi Sikh community and the black community. Thank you to the Uncle who inspired me to put this together..

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Now, to the actual article. 

For someone like myself who sees the good and bad in all institutions, traditions, and communities, it is hard to live in a world where tribalism reigns. Tribalism reigns in political parties. Tribalism reigns in religious communities. Tribalism reigns in secular communities. Tribalism reigns...well, everywhere! And as I discovered a few months ago, tribalistic mentalities even reigns in those systems where tribalism shouldn’t exist. 

During the past three years, I found that the more religious I became, the more mentally tribalistic I became. Sure, I embraced Sikhs from all walks of life and different viewpoints, but I found myself staying away from non-Sikhs (unless in a Gurdwara setting). Seeing that my lifestyle was so different and my way of thinking was so “foreign”, I didn’t see a reason why I should associate with those outside of the Panth. 

Fast forward to a few months back, and my worldview had changed completely. I stood on my truth that (unless proven otherwise or through direct experience), I could not have faith in anything. Period. Because for me, faith has always been believing in something that you’re not certain of or have not experienced yourself. It’s putting your trust in what others have told you versus what life has shown you. And after I made that announcement, the reaction came. Some spewed hate at me. Some pretended like they supported me, only to later find out that they didn’t. Some stood by, watching it all go down and eating popcorn. And some ceased contact with me (I can only imagine why). Now, I’ve dealt with some snakes and haters in the Sikh community before but danggggg. It’s honestly  just hard for me to process how people who claim to believe in the teachings of Guru Nanak, who claim to believe in the interconnectedness of humanity and nature could act towards a person in such a way. You would think I was dealing with fundamentalists, not Sikhs. 

But then I turn and look at the people who stuck by me and supported me (including my best friend). Though they might not agree with everything I do, say, or think, they are willing to have a dialogue with me, associate with me, and see past the labels. Because for them, they don’t love me because I think exactly like them or operate exactly like them. They love me for who I am and they see that tribalism is overrated. And with that, I can’t help but to have a smile on my face :). 

Again, we are in the 21st century. Being in these close knit bubbles was necessary for survival and prosperity in the past, but now, there’s no point. Guru Nanak in Japji Sahib even said…

“See the brotherhood of all mankind as the highest order of Yogis; conquer your own mind, and conquer the world.” 

A yogi is someone who is in the process of connecting with and being in union with the one reality, or the ultimate Truth. While some of y’all yogis just prefer to do this through faith, some of us prefer to do this with dealing with things we 100% know for sure exists and based on our own experience. But we’re all at the end of the day, yogis. 

And notice what it says. Conquer your own mind. Does it say conquer the mind of the aunty or uncles who you don’t like sitting across the langar hall? No. Does it say to conquer the minds of those on social media who you don’t agree with (including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Discord, and WhatsApp)? No. Does it say to conquer the mind of that one little kid who is running across the Darbar Hall and obviously doesn’t care? No….even though I would like to (LOL). Trust me loves, it’s one thing to try to preach at people and force your beliefs onto them. But it’s another to have an actual dialogue with them. The latter usually works better. 

So what have I learned throughout all this? The first thing is that not everyone deserves to know what you believe. And even though my beliefs might change in the future, only those who’ve stuck by me will know. Second thing is that it’s one thing to talk the talk, but it’s another thing to walk the walk. If you claim to believe in Ik Oankar, live like it as well. And lastly (and MOST importantly), don’t let the labels and differing beliefs blind you to the shared values.

It’s unfortunate that I’m just now learning these things, but since I’m young, I excuse myself. Honestly, I’m just happy that I’ve broken out of my bubble and can see pass the labels. That my “sangat” now consists of the religious, the spiritual, and the secular. But what’s next to do? I could only hope that I’ll eventually get to bury the hatchet with people who I either 1) have not had a good relationship with or 2) who have been offended by what I’ve said or done. I mean, all it would take is sharing a Pepsi….if you don’t get that reference, I can’t help you.. But forreal, the recent deaths of celebrities in 2019 and 2020 have me thinking about how precious life is and how life can change suddenly. That it’s better to bury the hatchet then keep little feuds going. Of course, if the person does not want to bury the hatchet that fine. My email or dms are always open if they do. 

Anyways, that’s all I have to say. Humanity good. Tribalism bad. Gurpreet out.

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