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S is for Sikh

Discussion in 'Blogs' started by clarkejoey, Oct 21, 2015.

  1. clarkejoey

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    Oct 3, 2007
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    I am a child again.

    Previous learning and experience may as easily help as hinder me on this course, so it doesn't count at the moment; I am starting from zero. On this course, one learns as one goes along. A whole new way of living beckons, saying:

    I will make the sparrow hunt and kill the falcon,
    I will make one Sikh fight a legion.

    Change is a difficult prospect at any age, but it is said that it gets harder as one gets older... something about dogs and tricks. Religious conversion is a serious business. I have seen it often enough before it became necessary for me. If I choose sometimes to deal lightly with a serious thing, it is not meant to give offence; think of me as an old dog worried about singeing his ears jumping under a burning hoop. I refuse to jump through that thing.

    Then again, constant evolution keeps me young. On the face of it, I might appear to be a 40-something whose history is characterised by instability, inconsistency, sudden surprises and reversals of fortune, but I might also paint it as abundant with activity, rich with personal contacts and, on the whole, quite un-regrettable. At this point on my road, I can say that I’ve made many more mistakes in stupidity rather than in malice, and that's acceptable, since a mistake-free history is clearly not an option. And, there are definite consistencies. For instance, I have always believed people are the same, I’ve always tried to be humble and have integrity, and I have never been afraid of controversy.

    Then again, there is something to be said for traditions and heritage. Mine has appeared to satisfy many millions before me, and has in the past filled me so much that I was prepared to give all for it as a sworn priest. It would be easy to keep the status quo: I could resume mass attendance... who would complain? It would not be difficult because it demands no external addition or subtraction: I have been a good Catholic while bald as an egg (which I was until recently), and with past-the-shoulder dreadlocks (ten years or so ago), as well as with a flowing, waist-length mane (my late 20's - early 30's). If I wish to be spiritual, I could go back there. I can hear the arguments of friends in the church, not to mention relatives.

    Then again... easier isn't always better. Being a devout Catholic was so easy the last time, I slid right out of it when I married a Presbyterian-cum-neo-Wiccan feminist. Even when I have applied extreme Catholicism - daily mass; the year-long prayer cycles; retreats etc - it has not been enough to hold me for long. Some can be general infantry... some must be marines. And some marines need to be green berets. This is not to say I am so confident of my capacity for what being a Sikh has to offer. I am sure that my belief system/view of the world is changed in a permanent way, but I am making no predictions. What is certain is that Sikh rigour calls to me as strongly as anything Sikh, and despite the possibility of failure, I am determined to try.

    Then again: this is more of a leap of faith than it would be in Punjab, or even Melbourne, Philadelphia or Birmingham, where Sikhs are a minority. There is no Sikh minority here. Granted, I share this tiny island with only 3 or 4 million other folk, but not one of them is a Sikh! Nor, would it seem, are there any Sikh educators, diplomats, businesspeople or tourists in Jamaica at the moment. I must be out of my mind! With whom will I pray? My people are very suspicious of the new and unusual, and often they are openly hostile; in many ways, the social mentality has advanced very little since estate/slavery/colonial times. Just one reason Jamaica needs a Sikh community. Mainstream Christianity - belligerently low church - is overwhelmingly dominant, and Rastafari is the common non-Christian choice. Remember, this is the birthplace of Rasta; if I resumed my dreadlocks, I am sure it would raise few eyebrows. As a matter of fact, if anyone has considered the untrimmed flourishing of my beard, they probably think that's the way I am headed. In my social circle (ranging from pillars of society, through entertainers, professionals and media people, to technicians, security guards, labourers and homeless folk) I doubt that ten people know a Sikh from a Sufi, and I have no idea what response their imminent enlightenment will provoke.

    Then again, what have I got to lose? a career? some of my friends? parts of my family? my reputation? my life? Yes, but what of real value? For a long time (through many many changes) I have held to the view that if I can sleep at peace tonight, things are well in my world. And sleeping at peace tonight means I have to continue reading what I am reading, and listening to what I am listening to, praying the way I have started to pray... all with a view to joining the army. God's army. Maybe as the guy who cleans the latrines, but the army nevertheless. With that in view, I can sleep at peace tonight, as I must, if I want to meet those sweet hours before morning...

    Then again...
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