Some say the United States is headed towards fascism and that our newly enthroned white supremacist administration will destroy our country. It certainly seems this way. While liberal and moderate Americans take to the streets to challenge ‘the Donald’s’ ridiculous statements and policies, #45 and his elite millionaire cronies sit in the White House dividing the spoils. There is a feeling of dread in America’s air ever since that fateful election night.
November 8th, 2016 was filled with angst. Once it was obvious that Hillary Clinton was going to lose the election, reality slapped us in the face – we had been betrayed by an angry white America who honestly thought a wealthy conman could fix their problems. All that hope generated over the past eight years came to naught when we realized things were about to change for the worse. I immediately turned to Sikh history for guidance and hope. I knew my problems living under president #45 were tiny in comparison to what my forbearers had encountered. After all, the Sikh community survived attacks from sadistic Mughal leaders to conniving Brahmin adversaries and British colonizers. Hell, we even came back (although barely) after having 50,000 of our youth straight up kidnapped and disappeared by the Indian Government during Indira Gandhi’s Operation Woodrose.
It was mere coincidence then, how days later Harry Baweja’s latest animated Sikh film ‘Char Sahibzaade: the Rise of Banda Singh Bahadur’ premiered in theaters. Filled with grit, humanistic principles, and downright fearlessness, Banda Singh’s story teaches us that it’s difficult to destroy an organized people whose cause is fighting injustice. The history shows how Sikhs overcame the odds only to come out of a bad situation even stronger. It was the story I needed to hear.
When Guru Gobind Singh Ji first meets Banda Singh, his name is Madho Das. And, although he eventually becomes one of the world’s greatest martial leaders, at their first meeting Madho Das is living as an ascetic hiding from the world. So how could a hermit change in such a profound way, that he is able to go from being a recluse to leading a people to nationhood and freedom? The answer to this question is the one that I think about every time I hear about another one of ‘the Donald’s’ horrific policies and want to hide in a corner. I think about how, just like Banda Singh, it is our responsibility as Sikhs to step out of our isolation and join with like-minded people to stand up against injustice.
Banda Singh showed us with his life’s example that fighting back against inhuman policies is something we should do without being afraid of Government-sanctioned punishment. This principle of fearlessness transcends the reach of any despotic ruler or tyrant. Besides this trait, Banda Singh used strategy, intelligence, inspiration and bravery to build a nation out of dust. During these dark times our Sikh history lays out a path of resistance for us, a way to illuminate the world with hope and strength. No matter what may lie ahead in the future, there is a lot of precedence on how to fight the onslaught of white supremacy headed our way. Our victory is not guaranteed, but Sikh history teaches us that staying quiet is definitely not an option.