The Fusion of Sacred and Social Action
Early in the morning when I wake, in my morning prayers I am reminded daily by Guru Gobind Singh Jee – ‘that loving and reaching God, entails loving his entire creation’. For me, Sikhi’s profound attraction and concept is Love. A love for God where I share myself with God through dialogue, engagement, and prayer – imperative that I give myself without expecting anything in return – ‘I dedicate my body, mind, wealth and all to Him. I totally sacrifice my soul to Him’ (Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee, Ang. 47).
So when I recite my prayers in the morning, the words echo and resonate within me that loving and reaching God, entails loving his entire creation.
What did loving his entire creation mean to me, did it mean tolerating those who are different to me. Tolerate? Tolerance – what does that even mean. The number of times I have come across promoting tolerance and interfaith relations in the same sentence worries me. Would, I base my values on tolerance – I tolerate someone who cuts me up in the street, I tolerate things I feel I don’t particularly like in order to keep my life in the balance I require. Where would this concept of love from my faith, and the idea of promoting tolerance amongst faiths fit for me – how would this shape my work, more importantly how would I deepens the foundations of my values this year?
Having started this journey with some reluctance and doubt in myself that how would extend this hand of love to turn the ‘other’ into my neighbour’s. How would those who I worked with this year interpret me? Would I be able to share that kind of love that I wish for those close to me, to strangers, to young volunteers, to anyone who I came across? Perhaps more critically from a professional perspective I thought is this really key, does it really make a difference. Having studied religion and development with much enthusiasm and passion through my masters I was convinced that a thorough and proper understanding of religion was essential in society. However, I questioned myself is this because I label myself of ‘faith’ or is it truly significant?
With so many questions I looked deep inside myself and questioned every move as I started out in the Faiths Act Fellowship – my dream first role out of my MSc. set the challenge of interfaith action with a global focus, I rapidly fell into a whirlwind experience that has been last year. Art 4 Action the main project this was focused around grew from strength to strength, days became full of anything and everything you can imagine from interfaith dialogue and malaria workshops to meetings with curators and huge venues! The showcase event at mac, birmingham was a huge heartwarming success words would fail me to ever summarise it with facts, figures, and numbers – the story has been and is told daily with as much speed as possible on www.facebook.com/Art4Action. A project which engaged huge numbers also engaged on a individual level – and was welcomed and praised so warmly, I personally cant help but smile when I reflect on the achievements.
Today, I sit a reflect, a moment out of the busy schedule as I move towards the final few weeks in post. What did this all mean to me, did I lose those early questions, have I stepped away from the fundamental core questions that my faith inspires me to ask myself. For the future what do I truly believe about this work?
I am here, and here to stay wholeheartedly. A open process, that is genuine, and effective in learning about what one perceives is the ‘other’ is vital at the community level and successfully delivering and implanting such work at all levels is crucial – whether it be nursery schools or foreign policy level.
I really do believe it – one the key solutions to so many problems will be a vibrant and passionate interfaith movement, but not just a movement that creates a scene – something that becomes the norm. A world our children will thrive in – I’m fully convinced this is the way forward (for me at least) – I think what is at stake is a very different world than the one we are currently in.
In the morning, I will resonate on that line again – I hope it will inspire me to at least be the leader that this movement needs, one that for me is inspired by love, but aware of its vital need.