Councilman Ravi Bhalla: ‘My perspective on the national election’
From the desk of Councilman Ravi Bhalla:
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
Since last Wednesday, I have heard from so many concerned residents about the results of the Presidential election. They worry about what’s in store for America. Some fear for their own civil rights, others worry about their friends, and some are still shaking their heads, wondering how this happened. I myself have seen the hatred of this new political climate earlier this year, when a Hudson County resident and supporter of President-elect Trump called me a “terrorist” and said I do not belong in this country.
But amidst the fear, there’s been an encouraging question I’ve received over and over from good people in this community, which is, “How do I get involved?” On this day, two things come to mind.
First, as you may know, I am a Sikh American. Today is a special holiday for Sikhs, the day of the birth of the founder of our faith, Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Guru Nanak advocated against prejudice based on race, religion, gender, and social status. Guru Nanak said, “See the brotherhood of all humankind as the highest order; conquer your mind, and conquer the world.” Guru Nanak was also an advocate of equality of women and all humankind, back in the 15th Century, in accordance with our core values as Americans today. On this day, we should both remember Guru Nanak and seek guidance from his message to the world, as we confront the challenges of our current political climate.
“Fear none, frighten none,” is another core tenet of Sikh philosophy that we can draw upon when gracefully resisting injustices and unprovoked attacks on our rights and liberties as Americans. Finally, at the end of the Sikh daily prayer, we say “Nanak naam Chardi Kala, tere bhane sarbat da bhala,” which means that with the name of the Almighty comes rising and optimistic spirits, and that we pray that everyone in the world may prosper and be in peace. These are high ideals, but as a Sikh, I wanted to share them with you and hope they provide some inspiration that at the end of the day, as Hobokenites, Americans, and world citizens, we’re in this together. We must reach out, understand, and most importantly, activate!
Let us start organizing at the local level, as real change starts from the bottom up. The key to a powerful party across the state and nation are tight-knit communities full of smart, committed people who will no longer stand on the sidelines and choose to instead build a grassroots effort that spreads the promise of hope and a more progressive future, instead of buying into fear.
It would be easy to tune out politics now if you’re unhappy with the results of the election. But it wouldn’t be the right thing to do, and it most certainly is an un-American response. The President and Hillary Clinton have called for us to root for the success of our country despite our discomfort with Mr. Trump as our president. That’s the right message, but we won’t accept or support initiatives that perpetuate discrimination and are in direct violation of our own personal principles. And while we want a prosperous nation, in my America, we won’t turn a blind eye to hatred or accept bullies as part of life – we stand up to them.
If you’d like to get involved, learn a bit more about how you can help, or just be around like-minded people who want to figure out how to make a difference, there is a group of Democrats meeting tonight, Nov. 14 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Pilsener Haus & Biergarten at 1422 Grand St. in Hoboken. The group is called New Jersey Awakens, and Dana Wefer of Hoboken is spearheading the effort to organize locally to make an impact nationally.
If you can’t make the meeting but are curious as to how you can get involved and use your talents to improve our community, state, or country, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’d be happy to talk to you!
Ravinder S. Bhalla