The Sikh Coalition. The Sikh Coalition Who? The Sikh Coalition is a civil rights advocacy and educational non-profit group currently representing, in partner with McDermott WIll and Emory LLP, Captains Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi and Tejdeep Singh Rattan…
Not a very funny joke, I’ll admit, but I gave this speech an innumerable amount of times as I meandered the halls of Congress this week in Washington, DC. My goal – alongside a dozen colleagues from the Coalition and volunteers who defiantly braved the unbearable DC heat – to lobby in support of a general congressional sign-on letter. To date, approximately 10 Congressional representatives have taken a firm stance and exclaimed, through their commitment to civil rights, that those Americans who wish to heroically serve their country while simultaneously keeping in accord with their faith need not chose between the two. Rather, this letter and those representatives who sign-on stand for a cause which will effect not only Sikhs, but Muslims, Jews, and any other individual or group who wish to adhere to the tenets of their faith and honorably protect the freedoms that we, as an American community, enjoy daily.
The exercise of browsing the House office buildings, making connections with legislative staffers and the interns who serve as the media through which we gain those meetings and phone calls, is no easy task. It’s a lot of leg work. And let me tell you, my legs are tired. However, as one of the few individuals participating in a grassroots effort to effectuate change for my community and beyond, it’s quite exhilarating. The thought of leaving my impression on history through the direct actions I take today requires a few moments to grasp, but when this concept does take hold, it fervently invigorates my legs to push on to the next door and advocate for a cause I know is worthwhile.
In all honesty, if I take a mental step back from this exercise, I realize that what I’m doing is not so difficult after all. All that is required is dedication. Dedication to civil rights, dedication to community, and dedication to Seva (selfless service). If a few individuals can wander the halls of Congress and make a paramount change, just think of what 50, or 100, or 1000 bodies could accomplish. The possibilites are limitless. However, as each community must, the Sikh community is currently in the process of growing pains. Without those bodies to help lobby for the causes which affect us, both directly and indirectly, those growing pains will remain present and we cannot mature into the community of leaders we were born to become. It is through dedication to campaigns such as this where the Sikh community can flourish and blaze a trail for our future generations to follow and to continue on their own.
Overall, this experience was great. Our efforts are not without reward. But most importantly, our efforts are not without a lesson: only through dedication to the cause can our community mature and meet its goals.
This post was authored by Aman Singh, a Sikh Coalition legal intern this summer.