So, I’ve been blogging for a while now. A couple years actually. The name of my blog is called American Born Confused Sikh. And in all of these years, I have never been more confused on a topic. It has never taken me so incredibly long to write about something. (I normally write it out in one sitting!) But this one has been on my mind for a while. I’ve been trying to write this one for WEEKS! And honestly I still don’t have a crystal clear stance on it. Cyber sangat ji, I think your opinions are going to vary from where you are situated at in the world, from your past experiences, and whether you are male or female. This is a highly sensitive topic so as always please read it with a grain of salt. I’m not an expert on anything and I’ll never claim to be. But I will say this: I do represent the opinions of a lot of Sikh American woman. And it becomes more and more apparent the more I write and share and with all of the feedback that I get. As with all of my writing, my intention is not to divide. It is to come together, to discuss, and to ideally to be on the same page. The reason I am so conflicted on this topic is because my views as an American conflict with my views as a Sikh. The topic is: Gun Control. So, please allow me to explain. But first some background info. . . .
The day before Thanksgiving. 2012.
I was sitting at work super excited about tomorrow. Super excited about having a few days off and seeing family and friends and most of all eating! It was 2pm and I only had a few hours of work left. But then I got a call from my apartment complex. Why would my leasing office be calling me the day before Thanksgiving? Are all of the tenants getting free turkeys?
"Have you given your keys to anyone else?" asked my leasing office manager.
"No." I responded
"Well, we saw a man wearing all black leaving your apartment several times with a black bag and your door has been left open."
My heart dropped to the pit of my stomach.
I did not complete those remaining few hours left at work. I told my manager what happened and I rushed home. My heart was racing. Was this a joke? A prank?
I went to the leasing office first. They had already replaced the lock to my door. A maintenance man came with me to enter my apartment. The police were already on their way. Even though I knew what had happened I still wasn't prepared for what I saw when I entered those doors. My stuff was everywhere. Literally everywhere. My electronics were gone. My jewelry, purses, shoes were gone. My passport and all of my other important documents were gone. The mattress to my bed was turned. Every single drawer was opened and everything was out of them and all over. My Gutkay was on the floor. My English translation of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib which was 10 volumes and which was so neatly wrapped in a clean cloth and kept safely on a high level was on the floor open and out of the cloth. My knees dropped to the floor and with my face buried in my hands, I cried and cried and cried. My personal space had been invaded.
Yet despite all of this happening, I was lucky. I wasn't at home. (But, I'm pretty sure the robber knew that as I suspect I was being watched for a few days.) The closest people to me told me that I should now get a gun. I thought about it. I researched it. The first thing I did though was to get a kirpan. A Khalsa Kirpan. I got the biggest and sharpest one that I could get. When it arrived, I was so happy. It was a gift from the Guru. It was engraved with Gurbani. I cannot explain the feeling that I got when first held it. It just made me feel safer and better and a little more tied to my Guru. I then took some karate classes, got some pepper spray, top notch security system, cameras, you know, the regular stuff. ;) But the gun. Gosh the gun. I really put some thought into it. I even went to the shooting range a few times. There is no shortage of them here as I live in Texas! I'm not going to lie and I'm not going to sugar coat this. When I held a hand gun, I just didn't like it. My soul didn't like it. I didn't like the way it felt, I didn't like the recoil, I didn't like anything about it. I even went to woman's shooting class that taught women how to load a gun and shoot it properly. They even had pink guns! I still didn't like it and I love pink!!! Now, here is the weird thing. During these visits to the shooting range, I had experimented with a rifle. And you know what? I loved it. I know right?!!! There was no recoil and my aim was excellent and I don't know, it just felt so majestic! I'll decipher all of these feelings later. But at this time, I decided not to get a gun. If I was going to get one, it would have been a rifle but I couldn't carry a rifle everywhere so I just dropped it.
If you have some time, copy and paste these links into your browser. This comedian also explains why I didn't get a gun at that time. It's funny and it's true!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rR9IaXH1M0&t=217s (Part 1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9UFyNy-rw4 (Part 2)
Now let us fast forward to the present. 2018. America. I cannot even count the number of school shootings and mass shootings that we have had. And after every single shooting, the same topic comes up and gets revisited: gun control.
So, I have to ask myself. What do I think about gun control or guns in general as an American? As a Texan? And most importantly as a Sikh?
As an American: I think overall we love guns. I mean, gosh, Trump wants to give guns to teachers! WTF!? Yeah, lets give our underpaid, over stressed, over worked, having to deal with 30+ rowdy kids every day teachers a gun and see how that works out! Great idea Trump. Great idea. (How many more years do we have left with him and how come he hasn't been impeached yet?)
As a Texan: Do Texans like guns? Hmmmmmm. . . .Do Punjabis like aloo parantha for breakfast?
As a Sikh: We know that our Gurus wanted us to be armed at all times. With a kirpan for sure.
Some say that we should replace a kirpan with a gun. But whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy???? Why not just have both?! Just because we have phones and tablets and laptops now does that mean we need to stop carrying a pen?! No matter how much new technology comes out, I always need a freakin pen!!!
Some say that we needed to be armed back in the day because we were literally under attack all the time and these situations do not apply anymore so we don't need to be armed anymore. We can now just wear a tiny kirpan around our neck. It may not be as bad as it was before but it's still pretty bad. We can't even take a walk down the street without being attacked. Every generation in our religion has had to undergo some sort of massacre of some sort whether it be on a large scale or a small scale. What happened hundreds of years ago still happens today just in a different form.
It's interesting because my initial reaction to guns has always been a NO. Like I mentioned earlier, I didn't want carry one, or own one, or have one in my house. I just didn't. It didn't feel good. But overall for the most part I am pretty secure as I sit here at Starbucks in Houston, Texas, America without any visible religious attire. However, if you put me in a country where it's common for women to get raped just for walking outside or riding a bus then you best believe I'd want an AK47 on me at all times. . . . .
That's the thing. The situation changes my perception. But I believe that our Gurus philosphies stayed consistent despite the situation. Yes, everything is comfortable right now here at Starbucks but what if I go outside and I get attacked just for being brown? I think that we always have something to protect, you know? Whether it be our religion, whether we are women trying to protect our very own being, whether we are brown and we are trying to protect our skin color. We have to protect ourselves. We have to protect our families. And as a Sikh, we also have a duty to protect others.
That duty should remain with us though whether we have a weapon on us or not. For example, in school we should stand up for those that are getting bullied even if it's a white kid. One act of bravery, courage, help, and friendship could change so much in the long run.
In an ideal world, there would be no need for guns. But we just don't live in that kind of world. We never have. Does that mean that everyone and their mama should own a gun? No. Does that mean that every single Sikh should own a gun? Again, in my opinion, no. (Especially not the ones with bad tempers at Gurudwara!)
There is the Sikh. And then there is the Guru's saint soldier. There is so much more to a saint soldier and a warrior of the Guru than just a gun. In my opinion, a saint soldier is one that is attuned to Waheguru all the time. One that has Gurbani flowing through his or her veins. One that is fit emotionally, mentally, and physically. One that remembers the words, "The pen is mightier than the sword." and "when all other means fail it is righteous to raise the sword."
I believe that in order to carry a gun and use a gun, not only does one need to have the right skill set, but one has to have the right mind set as well. They both are so important. I feel like back in the day we had that and today we lack skill set and mind set big time. We are not physically fit and we are sooooooo unhealthy. Me included! When I was in Punjab, there was one day when I had an aloo paratha for breakfast, a gobi paratha for lunch, and a paneer paratha for dinner! (It was a lovely day.)
It's weird. I still can't explain exactly why I don't like hand guns but I love rifles. I'm guessing that my mind associates the kirpan with royalty and courage and the Guru's gift. When I think of a rifle I think of soldiers in the army and perhaps there is something very majestic to that too. When I think of hand guns, I just think of. . . . death.
See, this is where I get conflicted. As an American, I honestly feel that we should follow the trend of the U.K. and Australia and I think we really should just take away all guns. I know, I know. My fellow Americans and especially my fellow Texans probably want to shoot me right now for saying that. But that's honestly how I feel. Of course, people would still try to sneak them in or hide them, but I do feel that all of these mass shootings would be cut down considerably. I feel like the American consensus is: "Oh, we have a gun problem? Let's add more guns!" (The NRA must be thrilled.)
I just don't think that's going to fix much in this country.
But now, here is where my internal dilemma comes in. As a Sikh, I know that our Gurus wanted us to be armed. They would want us to protect ourselves. We are just not the kind of people to hide or retreat. I feel like if someone was to enter Starbucks right now with a gun and start shooting up the place, if I was to hide under the table, THAT would be against my religion. I feel like if I pulled a gun out of my purse and fought for myself and every innocent person in this cafe, then only would I be serving my Guru.
This sounds super biased but I kind of wish I could say that only Sikhs should carry guns (Sikhs with the right mindset and skillset of course), but again, that's super biased right? That wouldn't fly with all of the other communities. That's so mean. Another option is just make it harder to get guns in America because right now they are so easily accessible. Don't believe me? Go to Walmart. No, I'll do you one better. Go visit a buckees gas station. They have a whole hunting section full of guns. And yes, you heard me right. It's a gas station! But still, would that really fix anything? We could be sane one day and go insane the next. It's America. We are all so drugged up on medication. (I'm sorry, I'm being mean, let me stop!) I still love you America!
Alas. I'm sorry if I've been all over the place on this blog. This was a tough one. But this is my pen and it is mightier than my sword.
What are your thoughts?
Bhull Chuk Maaf