When one who is strong and mighty
Attacks another of equal strength,
There is no issue.
But, when a lion pounces
On a defenceless herd?
Why, O why?
It warrants an answer! [Nanak]
Your head's held high,
As you ride a tall steed,
Bejeweled sword by your side.
Beware of pride, though -
The weight of the bloated head
Could, in a blink, topple you,
Landing you atop the same head! [Nanak]
It isn't easy being the majority in any community or society.
Since you have the sheer strength of numbers, you don't need values to wield what has the semblance of unlimited and untrammelled power. Which makes things unwieldy. Makes you lose your sense of self.
And then, your balance.
In it's desperate clawing for political power, Quebec's separatist party -- the Parti Quebecois -- has turned to toying with its citizens' fundamental rights and freedoms with the hope that it will polarize the electorate ... in the party's favour. The plan is to drive a wedge between the province's overwhelming Christian majority and the relatively small numbers of Sikhs, Jews, and Muslims that call the province home.
The hope is that the majority -- its emotions enflamed against the minorities which supposedly threaten the 'pure laine' (pure wool) texture of Quebec society -- will then vote for the separatists in the next election. Who cares if the minorities are wronged in the process ... and even choose to flee the area to other, more civilized parts of Canada?
Well, it ain't going to happen.
Such forces, when let loose, acquire their own soul, their own mind. You free a genie ... thenceforth, it goeth whither it willeth.
You don't have to take my word on it. All you have to do is look at recent history and see for yourself how similar situations have ended up over and over again -- with the alacrity and sting of a stepped-on-hoe slamming into your own face.
THE CHRISTIAN "LORD'S PRAYER"
Remember when the Christian 'Lord's Prayer' was recited in every school in every part of this continent? It's the prayer I grew up reciting in my school, with my parents' approval: "Our Father ..."
Cognizant of the changing demographics, and with an eye on the law, on the principles of fairness, and on basic decency, school boards in North America attempted to introduce occasional readings from other faith traditions in order to make children of all religions feel valued and included.
Right-wing Christian groups immediately objected. It would be the Lord's Prayer, and no other, they said!
They went at it with bell, book and candle, citing history and heritage and tradition -- as they saw them, not through the eyes of others -- and railed against the evil forces of secularism.
They did not represent the majority of Christians, I hasten to add. North American society is a highly enlightened and civilized one, but the silent majority was not heard. Not because it was silent, but because the fundamentalists were loud and strident, even militant.
So, the matter ended up in court.
The courts were reminded that the state should not interfere in matters of faith, and was given the choice between, a) the Lord's Prayer and none other; and b) no prayer at all.
The law had no option. It chose the latter.
Today, sadly, the Lord's Prayer is no longer heard in most schools. Why? Because those who were narrow-minded and wearing religious horse-blinds, would rather blind themselves, than allow others to see.
We now hear from time to time that the current state of affairs is the fault of of the other 'non-Christian' faiths.
The fault for the Lord's Prayer removal from public places lies entirely at the door of those Christian fundamentalists who refused to be christian-like. Period.
It broke my heart to see the Lord's Prayer thus removed from schools. And I know no Sikh in entire Sikhdom who would've welcomed such a result.
THE CHRISTIAN "LORD'S DAY"
Remember the "Lord's Day" controversy?
Christians are required to observe Sunday as a say of rest.
So, for a long time, everything in the public domain was required by law to be closed for business on Sundays. You had to observe the 'Lord's Day' no matter if your were NOT a Christian, or even if your own faith required you to observe a different day of rest.
Jews, for example, have their Sabbath from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. Muslims observe Fridays as their day. The Seventh Day Adventists, a Protestant Christian denomination, are equally strict in their observance of their Sabbath on Saturday. Similarly, other faiths have other days set aside.
Sikhs have none. Instead, they are enjoined to NOT treat any day as special. All observances are daily observances.
So, as the demographics began to change markedly, some businesses owned by members of other faiths began to ask for some flexibility. It wasn't fair that Jews would be forced to close their businesses on both Saturday and Sunday, for example. Or Muslims on both Friday and Sunday. And so on ...
The same Christian fundamentalist groups I have referred to above -- small numbers, but loud and aggressive -- fought back tooth and nail, labelling it all as the machinations of rampant secularism.
They forced the matter to be taken to the courts.
Our laws -- bless the law-makers -- could allow only one conclusion: the mandatory "Lord's Day" -- thanks to the Christian fundamentalists, NOT the other faiths -- is now history.
You know who to blame for this debacle, if you are one of those who thinks the world is sliding into the hell of secularism.
That brings me to Quebec's proposed Charter of NO Values -- yes, that's what I propose it should be called henceforth!
The Parti Quebecois consists of a bunch of losers -- it's not an opinion, it's a fact: just look at their entire history -- who are not willing to recognize that the majority of Quebecers consider themselves Canadian, they like being Canadian, and want to remain Canadian. The electorate has given them this message over and over again.
Their raison d'etre is separatism. And the only way they can stay in business as a party is by drumming up polarizing issues from time to time, which helps them gel their support base.
Everyone in the world knows of the law of diminishing returns. Except the Parti Quebecois. Hence, their latest shenanigans.
The members of the Parti Quebecois are almost all Christians. As good, observant Christians, they wear crosses around their necks. They say the Lord's Prayer, they observe the Lord's Day. They display huge crosses in the Quebec Parliament buildings. Montreal's skyline -- just like every other community in the province -- is adorned by a huge 100 ft high Christian Cross aglow with multiple lights, perched atop the mountain that gives the city its name.
Their consultants have come up with a brilliant idea.
Since past battles have been lost to the might of 'secularism', let's use secularism itself to fight the forces of evil -- namely, other non-Christian faiths.
Hence the new dogma: nobody in public service employ is to wear external religious symbols or articles of faith.
Thus, no turbans.
Convenient for Christians: Christians don't wear turbans. Only Sikhs do.
No yarmulkes or kippas.
Convenient for Christians: Christians do not wear yarmulkes and kippas. Only Jews do.
Convenient for Christians: Christians don't wear hijabs. Only Muslims do.
How about crosses?
Well, since Christians do wear crosses around their necks, for example, and only small ones, never large ones, we'll allow them to wear small crosses.
Convenient for Christians: no other faith groups wear crosses.
Why the exception?
Oh, it's simple, says the Parti Quebecois. Because the cross is a cultural symbol, tied into the province's history and heritage.
I have a document that proves that Sikhs were wearing turbans in the streets of Montreal in 1897.
Naa-ah! Says the Parti Quebecois. That doesn't count as either cultural or history or heritage.
And here's the clincher.
The Parti Quebecois calls this brilliantly thought out plan an act of secularism.
Yes, it's true. They have now embraced secularism, and claim that the forces of evil -- read, all non-Christian faiths -- are now the enemies of secularism.
You and I and everyone in the world knows where this Charter will end up before long. The dustbin of history.
But here's my concern. During its short shelf life, it might take the symbol of the Cross the way of the Lord's Prayer and the Lord's Day.
There's no court in this land which will allow Christian symbols to preside over government buildings while its employees are prohibited from wearing their own, respective articles of faith -- the very ones that are mandated by their respective religions and which in no way interfere in the performance of their duties.
All I want to say is: in the days to come, again, please don't blame us -- Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists or Sikhs -- for the stupidities of a handful of these narrow-minded, short-sighted, bigoted politicians.
Don't take my word. Listen to good ol' Robert Frost:
At the end of the row
I stepped on the toe
Of an unemployed hoe.
It rose in offense
And struck me a blow
In the seat of my sense.
It wasn't to blame
But I called it a name.
And I must say it dealt
Me a blow that I felt
Like a malice prepense.
You may call me a fool,
But was there a rule
The weapon should be
Turned into a tool?
And what do we see?
The first tool I step on
Turned into a weapon.