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MisterrSingh

Compassion & Tolerance Vs Common Sense & Self-preservation

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I came across a couple of unfortunate incidents in the news recently that served to get me thinking about issues that i suppose go to the heart of Sikh philosophy. We are instructed not to veer towards extremes; that the correct path is the balanced, considered middle way. Sikhi is as much a faith about standing up for oneself and battling for those who cannot defend themselves, as it is a faith that believes that love and kindness are essential traits if we are to live fruitful lives, and eventually merge with God.

How does one decide which situation merits a particular approach? Some Sikhs would have us believe that the default position must always be the one of tolerance and kindness even in the face of the overwhelming likelihood of serious harm befalling the individual who refuses to be mindful of their own welfare, instead choosing to believe in the goodness of others even when the evidence points to the contrary. 

Is it the right option to "be good" but then suffer terribly as a consequence, or should we be selective with our charitable nature, and only be forthcoming dependent on the situation before us? Which way would bring us closer to God's graces? 

Here's two recent instances that got me thinking. All opinions welcome.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/30/mother-son-die-triple-stabbing-home/

http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/03/white_social_justice_warrior_dies_at_hands_of_black_killer_.html

First: A wealthy family begin providing the local homeless with a roof over their heads by taking them into their own considerably plush home. Yesterday, allegedly, the latest homeless man who was lodging with them went on a rampage, and killed the mother and son of the family. The father was found stabbed and bleeding in the driveway.

Second: A white social activist heavily involved in the liberal scene of upper middle class activism was robbed, stabbed, tortured, and murdered by a black man. She spent most of her days espousing on social media about the evils of whiteness, and that black society was a perpetual victim of the insidiousness of white America. She refused to accept that there could ever be bad apples in the black community. She met her end alone and in an utterly tragic manner. 

Edit: In the case of the American woman, i was initially reluctant to use a right-wing website as the source, but all other sites and reports neglected to mention her political views and opinions that she shared on social media. For some reason they only seemed to highlight her work as an artist but not her beliefs. A lot was glossed over or completely ignored in the case of the lady in question.

 

Edited by MisterrSingh

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One massively important thing to factor in when doing 'good' is other people's mental states. 

Asides from being conscious of the fact that some people's life experiences can be so brutal that it effects their emotional/cognitive abilities - when we do good things (which in essence involves opening ourselves up in a way that isn't a norm in society - at least these days), I believe we can attract natural predators in the shape of sociopaths and psychopaths who would naturally hone onto unwitting people like a bee to a flower. Such predators aren't capable of feeling empathy/remorse like normal people because of their neurobiology and only see others as something to ruthlessly use for some goal (even if this is some twisted sense of fun).

Plus, if your own people have been on the wrong side (like your second example), and you personally decide to try and atone for it, don't think that your one act of 'kindness' will be enough to heal deep wounds and animosity that cut across centuries. 

Personally, I think 'social activism' can be a very important and positive thing, but not for people who have a lulloo idealised perception of human nature. In a nutshell: do good, but make sure your own stance is strong and you are able to identify and defend yourself against people who would abuse your good intentions. 

Edited by dallysingh101
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Guest Jacfsing2

I think as a community we should have a similar stance to good works and braviary like the ancient Hindu Ksychatrias, (I really wanted to say Sikhs, but apparently we've been repeated the message so much it doesn't stick with us anymore), if you looked at their history, (before their cowardness), they were fighters for what they viewed as Dharam and not only that they provided society laws and structure, (despite technically being bellow Brahmins, they owned all the real power). As a general connection they seem to be a good starting point for a revival for our balance in every way except faith.

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4 hours ago, dallysingh101 said:

In a nutshell: do good, but make sure your own stance is strong and you are able to identify and defend yourself against people who would abuse your good intentions. 

I'm trying to genuinely get my head around this concept from a Sikh pov, particularly as the kind of world and society we currently occupy seems to bringing these type of issues into sharp focus. 

In an ideal world - without wishing to sound like a wet blanket, lol - i would love everyone and treat them with such kindness and goodwill as i believe God wishes humanity should behave towards each other, but from my own life experiences i just know that isn't possible in any way imaginable. On one hand i admire those who strive to see good in all, but equally I feel most of those people who behave like this - whose goodness is not rooted in a form of true religious altruism but a false sense of attention seeking pride that isn't genuine - are rather naive.

Edited by MisterrSingh

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The path that you are alluding to is one where balance must be struck between compassion and self-preservation.

They may seem be completely contradictory but the almighty in his hukam has created great paradoxes in human nature.

It is often said that those that bite the hand that feeds them often lick the boots that kick them.

Just because one is streetwise and puts oneself first does not mean that that one cannot be compassionate. 

You cannot help others unless you do not put yourself first. Call it enlightened self-interest.

I think where we get confused in Sikhi with our compassion, is that the narrative is constantly about shaheedi, our selfless sacrifice for others.

However, Shaheedi is not something that is taken lightly but I believe that during Purataan times when we were hunted down my Mughals, our forefathers had to put themselves first. They only stuck their necks out to rescue Hindu captives when they were in a position to do so. They only do Shaheedi if it necessary and it would bring further gains.

However, with Contemporary Sikhs, I think we romanticize this and look at this aspect with rose tinted glasses.

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29 minutes ago, MisterrSingh said:

I'm trying to genuinely get my head around this concept from a Sikh pov, particularly as the kind of world and society we currently occupy seems to bringing these type of issues into sharp focus. 

In an ideal world - without wishing to sound like a wet blanket, lol - i would love everyone and treat them with such kindness and goodwill as i believe God wishes humanity should behave towards each other, but from my own life experiences i just know that isn't possible in any way imaginable. On one hand i admire those who strive to see good in all, but equally I feel most of those people who behave like this - whose goodness is not rooted in a form of true religious altruism but a false sense of attention seeking pride that isn't genuine - are rather naive.

What I struggle to get my head around is Singhs in the mid 1700s. They didn't seem remotely concerned with this 'universal altruism' people equate Sikhi with. They seemed more concerned with power and land. And VERY aggressively too. How do we explain that? Some of the ones from the later 1700s (like the Bhangi sardars) seem like outright bandits. These sardars pee'd the citizens of Lahore so much that the town essentially begged a young Ranjit Singh to take over and oust them. Rattan Singh Bhangu mentions that they killed the brother of another sardar (Jassa Singh Ramgarhia) to avoid splitting loot from some fort they had stormed. What the.....

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Addition:

 

I should add, in my opinion, the way dasmesh pita has framed life here on earth (in the dasam granth) conceptualising human interactions analogous to those of devtay and daints, explicitly explains (to me anyway) that we aren't supposed to view all other humans with idealised, rose tinted glasses. Humans can be great (devtay-like) or evil as hell (asura-like) and all shades in-between. I think Akal Ustat is also telling us that Waheguru made this diverse world with all sorts too. Simple pendu-minded thinking to the contrary is bound to hurt us. 

The idea is to do as much good as you can under the constraints we have I think. 

Edited by dallysingh101
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7 minutes ago, dallysingh101 said:

What I struggle to get my head around is Singhs in the mid 1700s. They didn't seem remotely concerned with this 'universal altruism' people equate Sikhi with. They seemed more concerned with power and land. And VERY aggressively too. How do we explain that? Some of the ones from the later 1700s (like the Bhangi sardars) seem like outright bandits. These sardars pee'd the citizens of Lahore so much that the town essentially begged a young Ranjit Singh to take over and oust them. Rattan Singh Bhangu mentions that they killed the brother of another sardar (Jassa Singh Ramgarhia) to avoid splitting loot from some fort they had stormed. What the.....

I reckon they saw the potential riches on offer for anyone who had the balls to step up and take their chance, and the Piri went out the window in a majorly drastic fashion, leaving the Miri in its place. Banditry is exactly what it was. Either that or somewhere along the way Sikh history post-1708 has undergone a severe watering down to bring it into line with its spiritual roots. Honestly, i don't think we're calculating enough to carry out a "conspiracy" on that scale the affects of which are in action to this very day. 

Edited by MisterrSingh

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7 minutes ago, MisterrSingh said:

I reckon they saw the potential riches on offer for anyone who had the balls to step up and take their chance, and the Piri went out the window in a majorly drastic fashion, leaving the Miri in its place. Banditry is exactly what it was. Either that or somewhere along the way Sikh history post-1708 has undergone a severe watering down to bring it into line with its spiritual roots. Honestly, i don't think we're calculating enough to carry out a "conspiracy" on that scale the affects of which are in action to this very day. 

I've seen life a fair bit now and I'm telling you, any sort of chaos/uncertainty automatically produces very sharp and ruthless (to varying degrees) opportunists who know exactly how to exploit it to their advantage. I believe a certain section of any population is naturally composed of these types; and the detached way they think makes them leaders - and they don't become leaders for some purely, selfless objective, it's for themselves mainly. If we are lucky they might do some good along the way - if not, they can be cruel tyrants. 

That's why I respect M. Ranjit Singh. Yes, he was exactly the type I'm talking about above, but he did do a hell of a lot of good while he was sitting on the throne (amongst all his shenanigans). 

Edited by dallysingh101

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1 minute ago, dallysingh101 said:

Honestly, i don't think we're calculating enough to carry out a "conspiracy" on that scale the affects of which are in action to this very day. 

I don't get this bit here. What are you trying to say bro? 

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4 minutes ago, dallysingh101 said:

I don't get this bit here. What are you trying to say bro? 

That we were always a bit ruthless and rough even in the so-called golden days, but the narrative had been airbrushed to make us seem chilled and accommodating, as if every Sikh alive was a potential saint. There was always dodgy people who considered themselves Sikhs, even in the times of the Gurus. I remember reading about a Sikh who came to Dasme Paatshah to complain that his missus had run off with his Muslim neighbour, lol. That's the kind of thing they'll never mention in Gurdwaras. 

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36 minutes ago, Ranjeet01 said:

The path that you are alluding to is one where balance must be struck between compassion and self-preservation.

They may seem be completely contradictory but the almighty in his hukam has created great paradoxes in human nature.

It is often said that those that bite the hand that feeds them often lick the boots that kick them.

Just because one is streetwise and puts oneself first does not mean that that one cannot be compassionate. 

You cannot help others unless you do not put yourself first. Call it enlightened self-interest.

I think where we get confused in Sikhi with our compassion, is that the narrative is constantly about shaheedi, our selfless sacrifice for others.

However, Shaheedi is not something that is taken lightly but I believe that during Purataan times when we were hunted down my Mughals, our forefathers had to put themselves first. They only stuck their necks out to rescue Hindu captives when they were in a position to do so. They only do Shaheedi if it necessary and it would bring further gains.

However, with Contemporary Sikhs, I think we romanticize this and look at this aspect with rose tinted glasses.

Unless I've completely misunderstood the essence of Guru Granth Sahib Ji, it's exactly the lack of that sense of pragmatism that i find to be concerning on a personal level. It is beautifully aspirational on a spiritual level, and appeals to our higher selves in a way that makes one frustrated with the contradictions of human nature that make practicing everything in Gurbani such a heartfelt struggle. Is that why Dasam Bani was always in parkash with SGGS Ji back in the day; because it provided a necessary counterpoint and pragmatic balance to the idealistic purity of SGGS Ji? If so, what the heck have we done by removing Dasam Bani from its rightful place?

Edited by MisterrSingh

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1 minute ago, MisterrSingh said:

That we were always a bit ruthless and rough even in the so-called golden days, but the narrative had been airbrushed to make us seem chilled and accommodating, as if every Sikh alive was a potential saint. There was always dodgy people who considered themselves Sikhs, even in the times of the Gurus. I remember reading about a Sikh who came to Dasme Paatshah to complain that his missus had run off with his Muslim neighbour, lol. That's the kind of thing they'll never mention in Gurdwaras. 

Bro, there is a real straight forward explanation for this in my opinion  (and I have tried to research it, so it's not just a hunch):

It was the Singh Sabha lehar that changed Sikh literature in this way. If you look at pre-annexation Sikh literature, they don't have any qualms with writing about stuff that we'd find shocking today. Rattan Singh Bhangu's work is a perfect example. I believe that conservative Christian influence on many of the prominent people of the lehar (through their education in British institutes), as well the famously 'repressed' nature of Victorian society (which ruled us at the time) seeped into their psyches, and they became ashamed of a lot of what our ancestors did - and completely wrote it out of their published (and very popular) histories. That's why you have this weird whitewashed conceptualisation of our ancestors which doesn't remotely reflect the nature of our society today and contradicts so many pre-annexation sources.

 

 

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5 minutes ago, MisterrSingh said:

If so, what the heck have we done by removing Dasam Bani from its rightful place?

In a nutshell: made ourselves docile. 

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14 minutes ago, dallysingh101 said:

In a nutshell: made ourselves docile. 

We've shot ourselves in the foot. Cursed ourselves perhaps.

 

16 minutes ago, dallysingh101 said:

Bro, there is a real straight forward explanation for this in my opinion  (and I have tried to research it, so it's not just a hunch):

It was the Singh Sabha lehar that changed Sikh literature in this way. If you look at pre-annexation Sikh literature, they don't have any qualms with writing about stuff that we'd find shocking today. Rattan Singh Bhangu's work is a perfect example. I believe that conservative Christian influence on many of the prominent people of the lehar (through their education in British institutes), as well the famously 'repressed' nature of Victorian society (which ruled us at the time) seeped into their psyches, and they became ashamed of a lot of what our ancestors did - and completely wrote it out of their published (and very popular) histories. That's why you have this weird whitewashed conceptualisation of our ancestors which doesn't remotely reflect the nature of our society today and contradicts so many pre-annexation sources.

That makes sense considering all we know and perceive to be our natural proclivities as Punjabis. It's a shame there's been a considerable mythologising of our history, almost as if what occurred was thousands of years ago in an idealised pre-history akin to the events of Indian mythology.

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