This Fourth of July – Independence Day in the United States – is my first as an American citizen.
I had lived in this country for many years prior to obtaining my citizenship. Having been born and raised in another country, I only had vague notions about the principles on which this country was founded, and it was during my preparation for my U.S. citizenship test that I finally educated myself on what was the Proclamation of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the US Constitution and its Amendments, and the Pledge of Allegiance, which we all declared at my citizenship ceremony:
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice for all.
It struck me then, as it does now, how much this pledge reverberates many basic principles of Sikhism:
- We are all followers of one God no matter what religion we follow.
- There is no distinction among people. We are all basically the same and equal in the eyes of God.
- Sikhs are to stand for justice and freedom. We all deserve freedom and should treat each other in a just way.
In many ways, Sikhs were American before there was a United States of America. We appear different, but what we believe are the same things this country was founded on. So, when we celebrate American independence, we also celebrate living in a country that encourages us to be ourselves.
Happy Fourth of July to all!