Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Sikh, a Hindu, and a Muslim walked into ... wait, they live there

Do I remember the contents of each and every blog post in order to quote them verbatim?  Of course not.  But, when I am reading/watching something of interest, am I reminded of related posts in my blog?  You betcha!  Like in the post yesterday, right, about this absurd life?  I am reminded of whoever it was who said that knowing what matters is a lot more important than knowing a whole lot--to which I would add that knowing what matters is contextual.

You are thinking, "what the heck are you talking about?"  I agree that it was too long a preface for a short blog-post.  So, here it is.

I was reading this in the Wall Street Journal (ah, how this should thrill my socialist colleagues!) about the few Sikhs and Hindus left in Afghanistan feeling increasingly insecure about their lives there and, therefore, exiting the troubled nation.  Which is when I was reminded of a Sikh who was a candidate in the Afghan elections.  So, I tracked that down--it is a post from September 2010 in which I quoted one of them, Pritpal Singh Pal:
Pal says it is a common misconception that all Afghan Sikhs and Hindus are Punjabis who moved to Afghanistan from India years ago. In fact, many members of this community consider themselves to be the original Afghans who never converted to Islam. And this sense of rootedness only gives their pursuit of governmental representation in Afghanistan more zeal....
It was heart-warming to read about Sikh candidates in Afghanistan and their patriotism and rootedness.  And now I am depressed reading that WSJ piece:
Otar Singh, the head of Afghanistan’s Hindu and Sikh community and a former member of parliament, said conditions are worse under Afghanistan’s democratic government than they were during the Taliban’s severe rule in the late 1990s, when the minority group had to wear yellow arm bands that singled them out as second-class citizens.
“Under the Taliban our rights were clearly defined, and people were not cruel to us,” he said.
Makes me want to echo that line from Rodney King: "Can we all just get along?"

What the hell is wrong with us humans, right?  We are so fixated on what makes us different. Language, religion, skin pigmentation, ... seriously?
Since last spring, around 400 more Sikhs and Hindus have left, according to community leaders. Most joined the swelling Afghan community in India, their spiritual home, while some turned to people-smugglers in a bid to reach the West.
Such voyages have ended tragically. In August, 35 Afghan Sikhs of all ages were discovered in a ship’s cargo container in the British port town of Tilbury. One of the migrants, a man, was found dead. The U.K. government is currently considering the asylum applications of the others, said a spokeswoman for the British Embassy in Kabul.
How terrible!
Despite the challenges, Rawail Singh, the community leader, says he is proud of being Afghan. “I love Afghanistan because it’s my country. We Sikhs and Hindus aren’t from somewhere else,” he said. “This is where we belong.”
I wish them well.

I will end this with the same video that I had embedded in that September 2010 post, which features a popular Bollywood actor who was of Pashtun stock himself:


Ramesh said...

Its really sad what a human being can do to another just because superficially he is "different". It may be religion, as in this case, or colour, or caste or gender or whatever. Right through history the dominant group based on whatever criteria of affiliation has mistreated less dominant groups.

It is something I simply cannot understand. Whatever might fuel your rage, when you hold the gun to somebody's head, literally or metaphorically, isn't there the "human gene" in your heart that stops you from doing it ???

It is in this context that I have unabashed admiration for the people of the United States. If ever there was a melting pot, this is it. And yet, more than anybody else, you are tolerant of others. Sure, its not perfect, as the recent encounters between African Americans and the police have suggested. But, in comparison to every other country in the world you stand head and shoulders above. Bravo !

Sriram Khé said...

Indeed, problems we have had in plenty, and we continue to have in plenty ... but, the US seems less imperfect than most other countries when it comes to people getting along ...

Whatever the science might be, I remain convinced that to harm others is in our wiring. We are taught from perhaps we can even remember to get rid of that or to at least hold that in check. That animal biology, instinct, remains in us, sadly ...

Anne in Salem said...

There are some things I will never understand. Too bad we can't learn from each other and appreciate our differences - and what those differences add to the world.

Perhaps it is some sort of defense mechanism when someone feels threatened. Perhaps parents can teach children to react in a more rational manner to threats that are perceived rather than real. Perhaps some day it will no longer be a dream but a reality to be judged by the content of one's character rather than by religion, color, gender, race, etc. Some day . . .

Sriram Khé said...

Yes, some day ...
But, hey, we ought to recognize that current conditions beat the historical past when killing and torturing was the norm. For those who have doubts, well, may I introduce to you Torquemada? ;)
As Harvard's Steven Pinker argues--in his huge book that I have not read, in many of his essays and op-eds, and in TED talks--life was way more violent in every possible way in the past. Our trendlines are good--it is just that we are not happy with the rate of progress