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Sikhi and The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (from SikhChic)

Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by spnadmin, Dec 11, 2009.

  1. spnadmin

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    Sikhi and The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    by I.J. SINGH

    December 10 marks the anniversary of the enactment of the Declaration in 1948.

    Many years ago, as a young student arriving in New York in 1960, when I first read the ideas in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I thought that perhaps it was a restatement of the message of Sikhism.

    Today more than 60 years later, we remember the Universal Declaration as the Magna Carta for all humanity. It has a long and checkered pedigree. It echoes the Bill of Rights of the United States and an American, Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the forces behind it. International Law treats it as a guideline; but within the laws of any land, it is not a binding treaty; only a declaration.

    When Sikhism arose on the Indian subcontinent over 500 years ago, and for its entire history, we Sikhs have been preoccupied with what exactly human dignity is and how it is best nurtured and safeguarded.

    My thoughts go to the fact that for many, many millennia, Indian society was defined by a rigidly defined caste system that denied the lower castes any freedom of thought, expression or association. And for many centuries, religious conflict dominated the Indian landscape.

    Since Sikhism speaks emphatically against such inequities, awareness of fundamental issues of human rights have formed and defined us.

    As a Sikh, to me human rights stem from the founder of the faith, Guru Nanak. He spoke of "One Light" from which emerges all creation. This God is found within each of us, and he defined God as love - free from gender, caste, color, race and nationality.

    The love of God, said Nanak, was not limited to only a particular people, be they Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, etc. None was excluded - not even the agnostic or the atheist.

    His message spoke of the three pillars of the faith: to earn one's bread honestly, to share the rewards of life with fellow humans, and to do both with an awareness of the Infinite within each of us.

    The Articles of the Declaration of Human Rights start with a recognition of human freedom and dignity, and the right to life, liberty and security. Then the Declaration goes on to reject slavery, degradation, inequality before the law, and fear of arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

    As a Sikh, I cannot fail to acknowledge that human dignity, liberty, self-empowerment, and justice where transparency and accountability prevail, were the teachings of Guru Nanak and his successor Gurus.

    Sikhism repeatedly speaks of a just and egalitarian society, where all men and women enjoy the rights of a free people, and could pursue their lives without coercion and fear.

    Sikhism asks us to pursue the goal of a free and just society where "no one is a stranger and no one an enemy."

    I see absolutely no chink, no daylight, between the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and how Sikhism teaches me to mould my life.

    December 10, 2009

    Forwarded by forum member Tejwant Singh ji Malik :happysingh:
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