Sikhism is a religion that has been an agent of change, not just in the spiritual realm but also regarding modern-day issues like climate change and social justice. The Sikh faith is rooted in the principles of seva (selfless service) and sarbat da bhalla (welfare for all), guiding the community’s actions over the centuries. With its excellent track record of social activism, the Sikh community is an excellent example of how religion can inspire individuals to make a positive difference in the world. In this editorial, we will explore the impact of Sikhism on modern-day issues like climate change and social justice, highlighting examples from history and its relevance today.
One of the most significant impacts of Sikhism on modern-day issues is its approach towards environmentalism and climate change. Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of our time, and the Sikh community has taken an active role in addressing it. The practices of the Sikh tradition, such as organic farming, rainwater harvesting, and planting trees, are examples of how the Sikh community has integrated environmental activism into its religious practices. The Sikh community recognizes that the earth is a sacred gift from Waheguru (God), and it is vital to protect it for the well-being of current and future generations.
Moreover, the three pillars of Sikhism — Naam Japo (Meditate on the Divine Name), Kirat Karo (Earn an honest livelihood), and Vand Chhako (Share with others) — translate to a lifestyle that prioritizes sustainability and environmental responsibility. The Sikh community’s commitment to environmental activism is not new, as history shows us that Sikh Gurus encouraged their followers to live in harmony with nature. For example, Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder of Sikhism, saw the human body and earth as interconnected, and to pollute one was to pollute the other. These principles, over time, have made the Sikh community a powerful voice for environmentalism.
Another area where Sikhism has had a significant impact is social justice. Sikhism promotes equality, justice, and compassion, which are critical in addressing social injustices. The Sikh community has been at the forefront of many social justice movements, such as advocating for the rights of minorities and combating discrimination based on race, gender, or religion. The Sikh community’s commitment to social justice is evident in its history. Bhai Kanhaiya, a devout Sikh, served water to wounded soldiers on both sides of the battlefield during the Battle of Anandpur Sahib in 1704. His actions represent the Sikh community’s commitment to serving all people, regardless of their background and deep-seated belief in social justice.
In recent years, the Sikh community has been active in advocating for migrant workers’ rights, which is a growing concern globally. As per data from the International Labour Organization, in 2019, there were approximately 164 million migrant workers worldwide who contributed significantly to the global workforce. The Sikh community recognizes the importance of protecting the rights of migrant workers. It has been actively working to protect their rights in Canada, where the Sikh community accounts for a significant percentage of the population.
Furthermore, the Sikh community has actively promoted gender equality and women’s empowerment. Sikhism considers men and women equal and promotes gender equality through seva (selfless service) and sarbat da bhalla (welfare for all). The Sikh community has been working to create opportunities for women’s education and entrepreneurship, thereby empowering them to become agents of change in their communities.
Sikhism has significantly impacted modern-day issues like climate change, social justice, and women’s empowerment. The Sikh community’s principles and values have guided its actions over the centuries, creating a legacy of social activism that inspires people worldwide. With climate change, social injustices, and gender inequality remaining significant challenges, the world can learn from the Sikh community’s approach to addressing these issues. When guided by compassion and a desire to create positive change, religion can inspire people to work towards creating a better world for all.