Plight of the practical middle majority

Our very fabric of the Sikh community here in Malaysia is being torn right in the middle, argues JAGDESH SINGH.Both camps are paranoid about the seeping influence of dark external forces, very sure there is a measured and deliberate attempt to hijack our peripheral beliefs, and then subsequently and slowly attack our core beliefs. 

| Opinion | 11 March 2017 | Asia Samachar |


The dust has yet to to settle. The turmoil from the raging angry arguments on social media and within closed doors still churn. Many are foretelling that the worst is yet to come. Our very fabric of the Sikh community here in Malaysia is being torn right in the middle. Imagine tender skin and flesh being torn bit by bit but not fully halved yet. In fact, from my distant estimation of the situation, the tear isn’t even a quarter of the full length yet. That’s still not good news because splits between us and ourselves have had no everlasting precedence yet. It’s an entirely new experience for many of us, especially from the younger generations.

But the split has been there for generations, oblivious to the majority. The orthodox versus the liberals. The orthodox with the heritage ways of the wise and old, of full blind faith, not fully understanding why they practice what what they believe in but unflinchingly loyal and fervent. The liberals with the constant questioning and testing of beliefs if their beliefs do stand the test of time, bravely challenging the status quo with the risks of straying from the original intent of their beliefs, always using introspection. Both camps are paranoid about the seeping influence of dark external forces, very sure there is a measured and deliberate attempt to hijack our peripheral beliefs, and then subsequently and slowly attack our core beliefs. Both blame the opposing camps of being agents to these external forces. These external forces could be the Hindu government, the Christian missionaries, the Muslim terrorists. Take your pick.

Very often, the battlefront for both camps are within the comprehension of our spiritual texts that guide us. Interpretation from both opposing backgrounds are never ever similar. Today, to add into the mix, the arguments also involve which texts are original and which aren’t, and if these texts are fed by the supposed agents of the dark external forces. Each camp will seek out endorsements from supposed intellects and supposed religious leaders of the Panth. Obviously, getting endorsements from like minded believers is akin to preaching to the choir. Objectivity never stood a chance.

And then, in the middle, the majority of Sikhs look in through the looking glass aghast at how ugly religion can become. The disdain is very apparent, especially at the arrogance from the both very loud camps. Arrogance that these camps assume that the middle majority needed saving, with either camp qualified to be caretakers.

The middle majority are working hard living a truthful life, toiling to be a positive contributing members of the society we live in, essential as our core principals of being Sikhs. The middle majority are constantly trying to put into practice the practical aspects of being Sikhs. Being humble shunning arrogance, accepting consequences of their actions, ignoring greed, being careful to not succumb to the lust of power or lust of flesh, avoiding rage and anger. Practicing these 5 traits takes a lot of time out of 24 hours. Then there’s living a life of a householder, making sure the family is sustained physically and spiritually. Some of us are just struggling to do all this while maintaining the image ordained by our 10th Master, as Amritdharis.

The middle majority will comment on the sparks from the arguments, choosing sides at each particular spark, without knowing the larger context and narrative. From harassing an old man as old as our fathers, to barring a group of us into the darbar sahib, renowned for its four doors to be opened to all equal humans. These are sparks. But the larger picture is oblivious to the majority of us. Meanwhile, more dirt is dug by both camps on individuals from the opposing camp. Our religious people have never been uglier to the middle majority.

Understanding, analyzing, learning and unlearning, arguing, debating, smearing, in the Gurudwara and on Social Media takes a lot of time that we already are missing to just do the basics.

The middle majority will soon forget these sparks, as life goes on. But if the tear in the middle gets longer, which the pessimists in us will warn, then the middle majority will experience more pain and turmoil, casualties of war. Even worse, they will start to shun the Gurudwara and perhaps seek spirituality else where. Then, who will need saving from either camp?

jagdesh-1Jagdesh Singh, a Kuala Lumpur-based executive with a US multinational company, is a father of three girls who are as opinionated as their mother


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