Sikh Offers Prayer at MLK March

Originally published with The Huffington Post

Prayer offered at the nation’s largest MLK Day March. More than 200,000 peopleare expected to gather in San Antonio, Texas to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin, Luther King Jr. As a Sikh American whose community has benefited immensely from the Civil Rights Movement, it was an immense honor to offer these remarks inspired by the wisdom and contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We are grateful to you, Creator, for bringing us together this morning. As always, we are grateful for our breath, our life, our loved ones, and all the privileges that we enjoy. Let us never take your gifts for granted.

O Divine – as our community gathers here today to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we ask you to help us follow his example.

Let us emulate Dr. King, who drew strength and sustenance from the deepest wells of his spiritual tradition to fight the most pressing battles of his day. Let us bring into our own lives a commitment to justice and faith and love and gratitude. And let us commit ourselves to making the world around us a better place.

We are grateful for Dr. King’s reminder that faith and justice go hand-in-hand. That faith without justice is nothing more than self-service. And that our love for the Divine and for one another compels us to serve those who are suffering.

And God – you know that so many in this world are suffering and in need of our support. As we gather here today, there are so many social inequalities that Dr. King would stand against.

Anti-black racism still plagues our nation. We say the names of Sandra Bland and Freddie Gray and Trayvon Martin, and Eric Garner and Michael Brown. We have lost countless innocent lives to bigotry, O God, and our nation is struggling to show that Black Lives Matter. This is not right.

Poverty continues to grow, in America and around the world. And our children are learning, from our example, to treat those without means as being less valuable — and less human — than the wealthy. This is not right.

We are also observing a startling surge of violent hate against anyone perceived to be Muslim – this is happening despite our belief that it is wrong to attack someone simply because of how they look or what they believe. This is not right.

Gun violence and mass shootings have spun out of control, to the point that we do not feel safe sending our children to school, or going to the movies, or even in our own places of worship. This is not right.

O Divine – as people of faith, we know that intolerance and hate is not your way. We know that your way is love and acceptance and celebration. As the late great Dr. King stated: “Every person of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits our convictions, but we must all protest.”

In this period of difficulty, give us the strength to protest against the discrimination and intolerance that we see in the beautiful world around us. Give us the empathy to respond to hate with love and compassion. And give us the wisdom to recognize that we are all in this together.

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