By Jagdesh Singh | OPINION |
Before you read this, I’ll need to throw in some disclaimers. I’ve been affiliated to the Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia for almost all my life. I’m also a very close friend to the incumbent Jathedar of this non-profit organization surviving completely on volunteerism.
My views, like everyone else who’s worth their salt, may be tinged with bias, with added with masala from my many years observing the going-ons of the Sabha from the inside and from the outside.
My final disclaimer – this isn’t even remotely an account of the recently concluded Annual General Meeting held on June 29th 2019. The meeting minutes and reports should be publicized and socialized soon.
What I witnessed last Saturday was indeed almost panacea to scars our community has collected over the past handful of years when many of us were dragged into the Dasam Granth debate. Whichever way we had leaned towards in this divide (and no, I wouldn’t term it as a Great Divide just yet), the brutal truth is that many relationships have been soured or even severed over it.
What we witnessed was a chronic case of “Holier than thou” complex from both sides that tried to impose their philosophies onto our thoughts. The intent, however questionable from both sides, was never to disunite the Sanggat nor to disrupt healthy dialogue, but as the saying goes, roads to hell are often paved with good intentions. And before anybody brands me as party to either of side, let me unequivocally state that I’m in the middle. I suspect the majority of our community sit comfortably in the middle, too.
So, it was so heartening to hear from the attendees, young and old, that we have bigger problems to tackle than taking part in a debate that’s as controversial as it gets over the past two decades. Social ills, like alcohol and drug abuse, was given due attention, requiring tremendous energy and work for not just the Sabha, but for everyone present.
The Sangat was obviously concerned with the escalating number of youth abusing alcohol and drugs in front of our very own eyes. Every single one of us is duty-bound to help ourselves and our naujawans (youth) cope with this problem. As I sat at the back of the room, it was visible to me that the younger naujawans were clearly perturbed and worried about these social ills affecting their friends and family.
As the master of ceremonies read out the activities and work that has been done throughout the year, I beamed with pride that Sabha had put their heads down, and just got to work.
It was obvious that they had their work cut out for them, but they were also under-staffed to carry out more work that was demanded upon them. Charity, our Sikh bedrock principle, for all, be it Sikhs or not, was being done throughout. Education and awareness for the youth and by the youth, was still at the forefront of their agenda. But there’s much to be done.
Some resolutions were brought up, and in a dialogue that promoted unity and togetherness, were also turned back amicably. No arguments. No shouting matches. No mudslinging. All of us present agreed to disagree and move on. One of the more senior members of the committee alluded to Sabha steering away from controversy, and that was that.
Let’s put an end to this debate about who’s right and who’s wrong with our own understanding of what’s right and what’s wrong. Everyone has his right to believe whatever he or she thinks is true, within his or her own capacity. Who are we to impose our thoughts on the Sangat? We have bigger problems to solve. And it requires each and every one of us to pitch and help Sabha, rather than point our fingers to them with the burden so heavy, it’s insurmountable without help from all of us.
Jagdesh Singh, a Kuala Lumpur-based executive with a US multinational company, is a father of three girls who are as opinionated as their mother
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
The lonesome heroes (Asia Samachar, 1 July 2019)
SNSM steer clear of Dasam Granth entanglement (Asia Samachar, 4 July 2019)