As a faith, Sikhism rejects inequalities that contribute to separation, including gender, race, and caste. For example, the final phrase in our prayer, Ardas, provides: “Nanak naam chardi kala, tere bhane sarbat da bhala.” This phrase outlines a key teaching by our Gurus: the request and active blessings for the prosperity of every individual. Sarbat da bhala literally translates to “may everyone prosper”. In addition, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the holy scripture of Sikhism, and other Gurmat codes, remind us there is no ‘other’: everyone is equal. Because of this great emphasis is placed on equality, our faith teaches us that we are also to be selfless in our pursuit of equality. We must vote in accordance with these core teachings.
When peril strikes on the world, Sikhs have historically been the first to step up. This idea is central to the concept of seva and vand chhako. Seva is a service performed without any expectation or reward for performing it. These services can be performed for a single person or society as a whole with the idea of welfare for all. Langar — a free meal for anyone who steps into our house of worship, regardless of religion, caste, or ethnicity — is a key manifestation of this idea.
As Sikh Americans, we believe heavily in and constantly work towards the progression of society, alongside the well-being of others. In countless situations, Sikhs have placed the well-being of others and society in front of their own. As the COVID-19 pandemic and the wildfires hit California, Gurdwaras were quick to provide refuge and food to individuals who needed it. We keep our gurdwaras kitchens fully stocked for this precise reason: to provide langar for all, in spite of external environmental and economic tensions. All the food, pots, pans, and supplies necessary to undertake such a large endeavor are always supplied by donations from individual Sikhs themselves. The food itself is also prepared and served by volunteers.
Langar is just one of the many manifestations of Sikhism that points us towards seeking out justice and equity for all. Politically, Sikh American values align more with legislation that supports the downtrodden. During this election season — those values align with the Biden-Harris ticket and the Democratic Party. Vice President Biden’s tax cuts, small business stimulation plans, and federal grant proposals would undeniably allow us and other Americans to flourish. Due to his upbringing, Vice President Joe Biden understands firsthand the struggles we and millions of other working Americans face in rising higher education and healthcare costs.
Most people in our community either left Punjab themselves, or had parents who immigrated to give their children a better life here in America. In making these sacrifices, they often gave up their own educational opportunities. Here in America, as our parents’ children, we now have the opportunity to show them that their sacrifices were indeed worth it. Vice President Biden has outlined a plan to combat higher education costs by eradicating debt for those who attend public colleges, and making community college free. Healthcare is also a major concern for older Americans, including our Punjabi parents, grandparents, uncles, and aunties. For our community members who are in dire need of extensive medical care, Vice President Biden believes that these prescription medications and check ups should be a right — not a privilege. He intends to ensure that healthcare is accessible to all.
Most of our families immigrated to America in recent generations. Now, as children are being separated from their parents at the border, as brown-skinned citizens and non-citizens are being detained in abhorrent conditions and cages, and as immigrants of all ethnicities are being denied basic medical care and life-saving prescription medicines, it is our time to pay it forward. Immigration — as a means to escape religious persecution, to provide your family with a better life, and to achieve the American dream — must remain accessible for everyone. Vice President Biden will emphatically pursue policies that safeguard our security, provide a fair and just system that helps to grow and enhance our economy, and secure our cherished values. He will take urgent action to undo President Trump’s damage and reclaim America’s values by modernizing America’s immigration system and welcoming immigrants into our communities. Vice President Biden will reassert America’s commitment to asylum-seekers and refugees, tackle the root causes of irregular migration, and implement effective border screening.
As Sikh Americans, our values are important not only to us, but are also shared by Vice President Biden. Indeed, they are essential to uphold for all of our fellow Americans. Without them, we will not be able to safeguard a future with equal access and opportunities.