Some questions for Sunny


pendalfthebrown
4:16pm, 9th June 2018

There's zero action on this forum so seemingly little point in posting here. Worth a shot though.

Sunny, you have some interesting prescriptions for emergent political issues hitting the Sikh community and one of your answers to these is that the Sikh Community needs to develop a thicker skin and learn to handle disagreements. This for me is the major, if only real problem.

I don't know of a single Gurdwara in which conflict has been resolved in any sort of peaceful way. You're mentioned interfaith marriage activists, do you think you'd be able to reason with those guys with your secularist view point?

In any religion, unless it's had some good time to evolve some basic secular social skills and rationality, there's little scope for diversity of opinion among the faithful - the equation people operate under is you either agree with me because of x/y premises or you're morally corrupt and an enemy.

So my question to you is, what systems are practically available to the Sikh community to get to the golden hill of difference without fragmentation? Is it even possible?

My second question. Critics of the Sikh community have their dodgy agendas, but there are some things that they're not totally wrong about.

I may be totally wrong but I can't see that we're fundamentally much better than other communities in terms in terms of extremism. Like other communities we carry the collective traumas of past attrocities, and that's being preyed upon by people within the community with their own agendas. So my question here is where is the line between legitimate collective action and awareness, and radicalisation?

How are we supposed to avoid the issues faced by the Islamic community for instance with people weaponising outrage and trauma, particularly among the young and disenfranchised, to their political ends?

I agree with your gathering storm analogy, it's pretty depressing and I wish i could say I was optimistic, but i'm not - especially considering with the gathering storm happening within the community.



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pendalfthebrown
4:16pm, 9th June 2018
Have to say, Jargaj Singh is so very missed for this reason. A unique voice which was able to bring together orthodox religion and sound intellect.


Sunny
10:22pm, 10th June 2018
Heh, the forum will take time. I had to set it up in memory of someone who was a known member of the community in the last Barfi Culture.

But I monitor this space too.

Now... in response to what you wrote.

1) "do you think you'd be able to reason with those guys with your secularist view point?"

Me? No, but that wasn't my aim to anyway. I'm not going to go to Gurdwaras and demand any change. That has to come from the community. My aim is simply to offer another point of view, and expose what's going on. Exposing it forces people to talk about it. And it needs to be talked about because its a small group of people who are trying to intimidate everyone else into silence.

I've had loads of Amritdhari Sikhs across the UK, India and North America who find these disruptions just idiotic. I believe there are enough good people who will see sense and call for peaceful dialogue and a way forward that can accommodate people. Jagraj told me they were talking about it.

And this debate will come up again when the two-amritdhari-gay-Sikhs scenario comes up. Sooner or later people are going to have to accept the Rehat Maryada is not a divine document and needs to be updated. The call for gay rights and inter-faith marriages are going to grow. And I have faith in my people that rather than exclude people who want to join Sikh families, we can find a way to include them.

2) "So my question to you is, what systems are practically available to the Sikh community to get to the golden hill of difference without fragmentation? Is it even possible? "

Well, social media is already having an affect: making people see there is a huge range of opinions out there. I see people discuss issues in a way they never could earlier. And I see lots of positive and progressive views coming forward. I don't get involved but I read them.

Highlighting that alone has a democratising affect on the community. We know we have to communicate with each other across the world, so why not be more accepting of differences of opinion?

All I'm saying is we have to try, right? All I can say is 'hey Sikhs, if we did this that would help us all develop a lot'. Hopefully some other Sikhs will agree and decide to take this forward. I can help but I'm not planning to host that debate myself (though there are existing Sikh media spaces that could do more).


pendalfthebrown
9:09am, 21st June 2018
"Well, social media is already having an affect: making people see there is a huge range of opinions out there. I see people discuss issues in a way they never could earlier. And I see lots of positive and progressive views coming forward. I don't get involved but I read them.

Highlighting that alone has a democratising affect on the community. We know we have to communicate with each other across the world, so why not be more accepting of differences of opinion?"

From what I can see social media is also having the effect of separating people into one dimensional camps and enhancing conflict, or perhaps a better way to put it, degrading conflict into a simple minded basicness. The tool of argument in religious communities I see tends to be, here is my defined moral principle and if you step outside of it you're immoral and not worth talking to - then there is a move to shame any doubter or questioner out of the discussion.

I guess what I'm saying is debate is good if it's from a point of openness and a desire to get to a good solution - but within religious communities where, from what I've seen, people are too certain of their positions and in any case aren't interested in solutions as much as they are having influence, there needs to be a frame in which to hold that debate. So I'd be interested to know if you, as someone who's been in media a long time, have come across anything that could aid the Sikh community in having more constructive dialogues.

Personally I wish we had a solid think tank which looked at Sikh issues and used enough academic thinking and rigour to have some authority.


pendalfthebrown
11:11am, 22nd June 2018
Actually a think tank which looks specifically at dialogue creation would be sick for any community.


Genie22
10:10am, 23rd July 2018
I'm going to play devil's advocate for a minute as my beliefs are of the inclusive nature.

My bf is Irish Catholic and we discussed this topic. Their marriage ceremony is between a man and a woman and this is the joining of two folk who can create new life therefore gays don't fit this criteria. No one ever asked them to change it and gay Catholics aren't pushing for reform as they see the reasoning behind Catholic marriage. Why should Sikhs be forced to change if other faiths aren't?


Harps
10:10am, 5th September 2018
I'm not Sunny but here is my 2 cents ...

As with all democratic or semi democratic processes there must be a decent number of people willing to put up with a lot of shit for a period before any reform can happen, this willingness to wade through the mire simply isn’t there for the vast majority of people self-identifying as Sikh's.

Most Gurdwara's nowadays have some semblance of a democratic process to select the "committee" however you must register and turn up to vote. The registration can often be difficult, and the voting process isn’t always straight forward either, but these functions exist. Even a return to a supreme court style of Panj Pyare can be democratic.

The challenge is, as with almost all political arena's, a democratic system is effectively a popularity contest with people voting along tribal/familial lines or with those parties who represent their specific interest. Any campaigning on real issues in a Gurdwara is often drowned out by the people who do turn up to vote for their families/friends/tribes - and as stated above most people don’t want to wade through shit to get to the other side.

I love the youth movements and fresh blood that are trying to challenge the status quo however many would disagree with me as a lot of these people want to progress on a very hard-line or orthodox view of Sikhi which often does not feel as inclusive as the religion has previously been.

Given the majority of "Sikh's" getting married in Gurdwara's today are mostly secular and are just "identifying" as Sikh's I personally think a better option would be enforcing anybody who isn’t already Amritdhaari to attend a mandatory Sikhi awareness course (this includes those secular "identifies as" Sikh people) this will ensure those getting married in the Gurdwara have undertaken some basic study of the faith they wish to profess their marriage vows under - if nothing else it will give an appreciation for the faith that those people may not previously have had and may lead them towards that path rather than excluding them from them or making them unwelcome. If people aren’t prepared to dedicate enough time to attend a short course, then it’s obvious the Anand Karaj is being seen as a tick box exercise that should not be allowed as a simple cash cow for the Gurdwara.

Whatever we can do to encourage people to embrace the faith should be encouraged and made easy we should educate not exclude unless it is blatantly obvious that identifying as a Sikh is simply a tick box.



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