OUR SPIRIT, OUR RESPONSIBILITY,
Indianapolis, Aug. 24, 2007
Kanwal Prakash "KP" Singh
THE KAUR FOUNDATION & SIKHPOINT.COM RECEPTION
Home of Sardar Awtar and Birendar Singh ~ Potomac, Maryland
August 4, 2007
OUR SPIRIT, OUR RESPONSIBILITY, OUR FUTURE
Kanwal Prakash “KP” Singh
“When God’s Grace is upon us, undreamed-of blessings
are showered upon us.”
Source: Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh Sacred Scriptures)
Honored Guests, Friends, and Family:
I stand before you as a witness and offer you a testimony of that
The nightmare of Partition, the formidable struggles of my ordinary
life seem far away.
My Drawings at The Sikh Heritage Gallery at The Smithsonian is a
So also, many distinguished achievements of many Sikh Americans
in many fields.
Each of you honor me, my family, and our wonderful hosts by your
We thank Mirin Kaur and her parents, The Kaur Foundation; Sardar
Bicky Singh and Sikhpoint.com; and Dr. Paul Taylor and the Smithsonian
that brought us together.
I proudly share this honor with each of you:
Each of us in our own way are contributing to the greatness of America,
The life and land that we all love as the new Americans,
With many of our thoughts and inspirations deeply anchored in
The sacred soils and cultures of our origin;
This evening is not about me; it is about us, our world, out time,
That is the true cause and spirit of this evening’s celebration,
The real mandate for this distinguished gathering of dignitaries
Smithsonian, Justice, and Indian Embassy officials,
The patrons of the arts, community leaders, media representatives
All radiating warmth, optimism, and a kindred spirit in this lovely
SOME IDEAS TO REFLECT UPON AS WE CELEBRATE
As the youngest American pioneers:
Each time we cross a formidable threshold,
Surpass our own or someone else’s expectations;
Successfully innovate, excel, or make a positive difference,
Witness the once impossible become possible,
The unimagined dreams a reality;
We feel proud and celebrate our achievements.
When we make the right decision, investments, sacrifices,
Take a courageous stand on principle, as SALDEF often does
In defense of our inalienable and sacred rights;
Stand in solidarity with others engaged in similar struggles,
We advance the cause and spirit of all humanity.
When we network, interface with other wisdoms, talents, experiences;
Promote universal ideas and ideals, all-embracing visions and hopes,
Strive to make them an integral part of our vibrant national tapestry
Where each spiritual panel of our interwoven Raagmala is valued,
Recognized as equally significant and uniquely precious;
Where our many distinct cultures dance in symphonic harmony,
Our diversity heralds an invitation, not a threat, neglect, or disregard
As the great new frontier of our opportunity;
We proudly rejoice and celebrate these as our uncommon blessings.
THE SIKH SPIRIT, COMMANDMENTS, AND CHALLENGE
As Sikh Americans, we carry additional burdens and blessings:
Our faith-mandated distinctness, Faith-Commandments of Equality
Justice, Religious Freedoms, Seva, and Dignity for all living beings;
Our inspirations, values, pioneering spirit, righteous defiance
Affirm and remind us of our proud history, heritage, and celebrated
As the hardy and colorful Gatekeepers of Indian civilization,
As the proud champions of universal human and sacred rights;
The Sikh Scriptures proclaim the sanctity of all faiths and traditions:
Sikhs take pride in being equal partners, good friends, thoughtful
Welcome competing fairly and with an uncommon passion,
Prayerful abandon and deep commitment to our universal ideals;
Unafraid of odds, we dare to excel among the best
In the fascinating and fierce Global Holla Mohallas of our times,
With our sights and spirit firmly trained upon the big prize.
In humility and thanksgiving, Sikhs always remember:
Each victory as a triumph of and for our SutGuru,
As our humble offering to The Wonderful Lord,
A celebration of our common humanity;
As an honor to The Lady Liberty beckoning us to these shores,
A salute to all generations that make these moments possible;
We seek our fair and rightful place in every major Courtyard:
See ourselves as a part of the international Circle of Belonging,
With no one outside our thoughtful consideration, friendship,
Enlightened understanding, humanity, and welcoming spirit.
A MANDATE TO LEARN AND SERVE
We must always remain passionate students:
Eager to learn, appreciate, and mainstream our energies, investments.
True to our ancient culture, spiritual lessons and honored traditions
We must see ourselves not as the center of the universe,
Only as answers to prayers, messengers of hope to others.
We must not indulge or imagine that life revolves around us,
Expect others to appreciate our ways, traditions, or concerns.
We must be ready and willing to stretch our spirit to embrace theirs.
Let us together, with a boundless spirit and serious determination
Dispel darkness of ignorance, prejudice, unfounded stereotype
Against us, or other faiths, cultures, values, faith-mandated identities;
Reach out to the alienated; assure everyone’s right to life
Discover and strengthen areas that unite us in common visions,
Serve causes that are critical to human survival and advancement.
ARTS AS A UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE AND BRIDGE
The arts offer a magnificent dimension of human passions:
Music, dance, literature, fine arts, architecture offer window to
A single line of poetry can enthrall us with its beauty and imagery,
One folksy lyric and beat of Bhangra music can send the whole world
A drawing like the “Cathedrals of Spirit” can thread
our spiritual world in hope.
Let us explore what we can do for preservation and advancement of
Study their unimagined financial and emotional rewards and impact.
Transform and bridge human civilizations through the power of the
OUR MANY JOURNEYS, SPECIAL STRENGTHS
Each of you has already achieved many great things:
We should all be proud of those milestones and accomplishments.
This may not be the time to stand still, rest on our past laurels.
Many battles lie ahead to insure our voices in honored Chambers.
We have only begun to imagine our own promise, our responsibility,
Pursue ideas that enhance our potential, multiply our contributions.
We need to step out of our comfort zones, narrow frames of reference,
Learn from each other, our celebrated heroes and outstanding teachers,
Communities and institutions engaged in many exciting endeavors.
Wherever possible, combine our strengths and offer united fronts,
Deliberate and address our serious concerns in thoughtful ways.
Welcome our own responsibility to serve at many levels,
Make a worthy place for young talents, our significant values,
Vital interests within civic and cultural frameworks where we live.
LANDMARK CHALLENGES, BEING OPEN TO GROWTH
There will be tough times, tests of our will and our loyalty:
Each pioneering generation has faced similar challenges -
Hostility, suspicion, mistaken intentions, threats to existing order.
In time, they prevailed because they refused to surrender
To unfair, unfriendly trials at the hands of an established few;
Today enjoy their special place under America’s “spacious
For lessons and inspirations, look to communities and the nation:
Irish, Germans, Italians, Hispanics, Jews, other ethnic communities
Survivors of the famines, persecutions, wars and Holocaust,
Daring pioneers in search of new adventures, their dreams,
Today standing tall, integrated as successful and proud Americans.
We too, in time will secure a place of acceptance and inclusion
As Sikhs, Indians, Asian Americans, other ethnic-nationalities
As we mainstream our energy and pursuits in the years ahead;
Our faiths, cultures must remain our non-negotiable sacred rights,
As our precious gifts to culture, community, spirit of our nation.
To succeed, we must study the spirit and culture of our place:
Fully engage, network and integrate our hopes and dreams
With communities and generations that came before us;
Appreciate the strengths, wisdoms and cherished values of others,
See “Every living being as a repository of Divine Light.”
Learn the language and traditions of society around us,
Respect the laws and institutions of lands that are now our home.
Span our many divides, different perspectives with understanding,
Walk towards each other in faith, friendship, in common humanity.
Seize every opportunity to create, innovate, lead, blaze new trails,
Respond to the urgency of saving our Planet, building a world
Where all, with whom we share this time and space, may prosper in
OUR MANY ACHIEVEMENTS, A BRILLIANT FUTURE
Many of you are fully engaged in such laudable affairs:
We salute your daring initiatives and innovative breakthroughs,
Your amazing contributions and personal example;
We offer you our thanks, congratulations, prayers for leading the
We may not be able to follow your successful trails:
Some of us may be slow and a few of you are so far ahead.
Each of us has our own understanding, relationship to life,
Tryst with destiny, our own journeys, and inherited perspectives.
Let us be guided by a spirit of Charhdikala, contagious optimism,
The tough Punjabi spirit, and with our head held high
Pursue our many distinct visions and promising endeavors,
Always affirming dignity of righteous labor, celebrating all excellences;
Honoring, serving, celebrating our shared hopes as One God’s
“One Race, One Brotherhood” under the mighty heavens,
“With Goodwill toward All” as we petition in daily Ardas
The All-Knowing, Wonderful Lord will take us from there
To yet unimagined victories and “undreamed-of blessings.”
Each of you, present in person or in spirit, embody great promise.
I accept your thoughtful honor with humility and thanksgiving,
On your and their behalf and thank you for this beautiful memory;
My family and I wish each of you many happy moments to treasure.
Kanwal Prakash “KP” Singh
Indianapolis, Indiana USA