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Letter 53 | American Values Religious Voices

Letter 53

DAY 53

Nirinjan Kaur Khalsa-Baker

Senior Instructor Theological Studies
Loyola Marymount University
March 13, 2021

Dear President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Members of the 117th Congress,

Sat Siri Akal, as a Sikh I greet you by acknowledging that “Truth is Timeless.”

You have been handed a heavy burden to care for our country and its people at a time when so many are divided by social inequalities, economic inequities, and contesting claims to the truth. We see fear and violence erupt from broken systems that, for too long, have not served “We the People.”

How can we find common ground in the American dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? How can we reconcile centuries of abuse with the vision of democracy and equality that we hold to be true and self-evident? How can we traverse the ocean of disinformation and build bridges over dark chasms of distrust?

We turn to the light of religious wisdoms to guide us through this darkness as we rebirth our country. This transformation requires a change of heart, mind, and action to heal old wounds, serve one another, and protect the dignity of all life.

“Sikh wisdom teaches us to be humble students, selfless servants, sovereign sages, and fearless warriors.”

Sikh wisdom teaches us to be humble students, selfless servants, sovereign sages, and fearless warriors. By cultivating a meditative mind, we develop discernment to see beyond human constructed divisions. Guru Nanak, the first Sikh Guru proclaims: “The highest yoga practice is to see the kinship of humankind; by conquering your mind, you conquer the world” (Guru Granth, 6).

By looking beyond our self-centered ego, we see the interconnectedness of all life (Ik Ong Kar). By letting go of fear (nirbhao), we no longer see others as enemies (nirvair), and we come together in beloved community (sangat). The Guru teaches: “I have forgotten my envy of others since I have realized the divine company. I see no enemy. I see no stranger. We all belong to one another” (Guru Arjan Dev, Guru Granth, 1299).

Sikhi offers a way of being in the world that is both sovereign and interconnected, exemplified as the Warrior Sage who shows up with a courageous heart and a discerning mind, to care for and defend the dignity of all life.  May your tenure be guided by this spirit to bring peace and prosperity to all.

Nanak Nam — In the vibration of the One
Chardi Kala — Ever rising spirit
Tere Bhane — By your grace
Sarbat Da Bhala — May all prosper in peace

Sincerely,

Nirinjan Kaur Khalsa-Baker

Nirinjan Kaur Khalsa-Baker, Ph.D.
Senior Instructor Theological Studies
Loyola Marymount University

the author

Nirinjan Kaur Khalsa-Baker is Senior Instructor Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University, where she also served as Clinical Professor Jain and Sikh Studies and Acting Director Graduate Yoga Studies. She was born a second-generation Sikh and became the first female exponent of the Sikh drumming tradition. Her ethnographic research and publications investigate historic, modern, and transnational Sikh devotional music. Using a decolonial lens, she explores diversity and gender roles in Sikh identity, pedagogy, and practice. Throughout her scholarship and teaching, she highlights the importance of embodied practices to cultivate ethical action in daily life.