In advance of his historic Invocation of the Republican National Convention tonight, Ishwar Singh, talks about his motivation:
I hope that my presence Wednesday on the national stage will play a small part in helping Sikhs – and people of all races, faiths and orientations – be seen as part of the great American family. We Sikhs draw strength from the nonpartisan support we have received in response to the terrible tragedy in Oak Creek.
…After Wednesday, I hope that we will see more engagement and inclusion. I hope our elected officials will stand against hateful speech this election season. I hope that the government tracks hate crimes specifically against Sikhs and that Sikhs will be considered eligible to serve this country, as we have served so many others, in the police and armed forces.
I hope that our children and grandchildren will be permitted to be full and equal members of this great American family. As our first teacher, Guru Nanak, and the founders of our faith taught us: I see no stranger.
Many Sikhs are honored by this gesture by the Republican Party, who didn’t have to invite a Sikh to provide an invocation, and certainly no one would have expected this from them.
There are those who suggest this gesture may be “hollow”. Certainly, well-documented issues exist related to members of the Republican Party in their perception of and behavior towards visible minorities. We must acknowledge that prominent voices from within that party have been rather antagonistic to the country’s Muslims and other groups, to say the least, and this behavior has had a negative impact on American communities.
However, in the tradition set forth by the Sikh Gurus, we as a community should accept this invitation with the same grace shown by Ishwar Singh. Let us take this as a first step towards many better things to come.