http://almanacnews.com/print/story/print/2012/08/22/letter-what-it-means-to-me-to-be-a-sikh


Almanac

Viewpoint - August 22, 2012

Letter: What it means to me to be a Sikh

I am a 12-year-old American Sikh. I have been deeply troubled at the massacre of Sikhs in Wisconsin.

Sikhs are often confused with perpetrators of the Sept. 11 tragedy because of their turbans. While the external attire may look the same, the ideology is completely different. Sikhs believe in equality of all humans, irrespective of caste, color or religion.

Sikh is a verb in Punjabi which means to learn. In Sikhism, the noun Sikh means someone who is learning to be a good person. The Teacher or the True Guru is the Creator Himself. The Sikhs believe that there is only one Creator, who does not hate anyone, and is nurturing and forgiving to all. We see that the sun, water, air is for everyone, and the Earth supports us no matter who we are.

A Sikh's aim in life is to imbibe these divine qualities of the Creator. We believe that that will help our soul merge with the Creator after death. It is our actions that determine whether we are closer to God or farther away from God. Love for all, is the way to find God.

The Sikhs took on very distinctive attire in 1699 in response to atrocities committed by a bigoted ruler in the Indian subcontinent. They took on the responsibility to protect the oppressed, and to protect freedom of religion. Their dress code of long hair, unshaven beard, a steel bracelet, a sword and long shorts always made them stand out so that they were always accessible to help the weak.

Unfortunately in the post-9/11 era, a turban is associated with Osama bin Laden and his followers. That makes the Sikhs at the receiving end of most hate crimes directed at that terrorist group because of mistaken identity.

We Sikhs are regular humans like everyone else. Our belief in equality of all humans, freedom of religion, justice, and liberty for all is very much compatible with American values.

Maanek Singh of Woodside is an incoming seventh-grader at La Entrada School

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