Redeem Your God: SATPAL SINGH
Ramblings of a Syrian Child
In the morning, they will take out my eyes.
I will not sleep tonight. Not because I am terrified. I am. But there is nothing I can do about it. And nobody else in the world will do anything about it.
I can't sleep because I want to take in all the sights while I can. The sights are not pretty here. But at least I can see.
That will end in the morning.
They will not even need to clandestinely shoot bullets into my eyes. They slash or gouge out our eyes with complete impunity, and leave the evidence behind for everyone to see.
They have already shown me the knife they plan to use. They don't even need to tie me up. My legs and arms are already broken. My neck is half broken. My body has been charred all over by cigarette burns. All my nails have been pulled out with pliers. My manhood was hacked off yesterday, just as Hamza's had been earlier.
At thirteen, Hamza was two years older than me. When I saw the pictures of his body, I could not sleep all night. But I never thought that that could happen to me. As a high achieving middle schooler, my parents had high hopes and expectations for me. I had won all math competitions at every level. I was the best qanun player in my school. I was a role model for my six-year-old sister who always adored me, and whose lovely face I would still see, even after they make me blind.
I can't even describe some of what they have done to me. It is ironic that such brutality can be carried out so brazenly, yet cannot be described or depicted in the media. When they brought my father's body home, my mother did not even let me see it. How could she know that soon I would myself suffer the same fate?
I have many questions for which I find no answers. How can a man perpetrate unspeakable barbarity against small children and then go home and shower the love of a father on his sons or daughters? I have no answer.
Have we lost our humanity? Or is this itself our new humanity? Is this a part of God's grand scheme? I have been taught to accept the Will of God. I do so with all the grace and dignity that I can muster. But is this really the Will of my God? Is our God really that heartless? I have no answer.
Or is it my own sins? Do my sins outweigh the kindness, grace and compassion of my God? Do the sins of children who have barely learned to walk have the power to vanquish the infinite kindness and compassion of our God? I have no answer.
Irrespective of the answers to the many questions my heart keeps asking, nobody can save me. It is too late for me. But it may still be possible to save many others. According to Human Rights Watch, the actual number of detentions is "likely much higher" than the 25,000 detentions documented.
I am told that the political world has it own compulsions. It took the world over a year to simply attach the label of "genocide" to the brutality in Darfur. The world watched in horror, but did nothing more than make angry pronouncements, when over 800,000 Rwandans were murdered in Rwanda, when thousands were massacred in Srebrenica despite the presence of the United Nations Protection Force, or when thousands of Sikh men were burned alive in India, and women, including girls younger than me, were viciously gang raped.
If the world's political leaders are helpless, can the spiritual leaders of the world help us? Spiritual leaders wield more influence than the Kofi Annans, Obamas, Camerons, Hollandes and Merkels of the world. Even more than its Genghis Khans, Hitlers, Pol Pots and Assads. That's because the spiritual leaders represent God, who is more powerful than any leader or tyrant, and who has no boundaries to contend with, national or otherwise. Strong and unified pressure from world's spiritual leaders may deter a brutal regime, or its men, from unleashing tyranny on its people. Could the spiritual leaders of the world, including leaders of the Alawites who are perpetrating most of these atrocities, caution their followers in unequivocal and forceful terms that God does not look kindly on such violations of human rights?
I realize that I am being naïve and too simplistic in making this suggestion, which may not work. But can the spiritual leaders of the world put their differences aside and find a solution -- any solution that works? They have a strong voice. If this were happening to their own children, they would move heaven and earth to find a way to save their children. As we all are God's children, and our spiritual leaders represent God, it behooves them to care for God's children. Can they all speak in one voice for us?
Can the Christians help us? Jesus himself suffered for their sake. Can the Muslims who fear Allah help us? Can the Hindus move the soul of the heavens for us? Would Jews stand for us in the name of those millions who perished not so long ago? Do Sikhs, whose Gurus and countless co-followers suffered unspeakable torture for the sake of others, and who have themselves just recently gone through a torture archipelago of their own, care for us? Would the followers of Buddha, who was so moved by the sufferings of the world that he renounced his kingdom to seek spiritual enlightenment, speak for us?
If our spiritual leaders remain silent to such savagery, do they still represent God? Do they still represent God's sons and daughters, who are being subjected to such unfathomable torment? Does God condone such deafening silence on their part?
Spiritual leaders of the world, may I beseech you to close your eyes for a moment and visualize someone breaking the bones of a helpless innocent child, burning him all over with cigarettes, crushing his genitals and slashing his eyes with knives? Could you then look straight into the eyes of your own children and tell them that just because you go regularly to your place of worship, give sermons and sing the praises of your merciful and compassionate God, you are living a spiritual and a pious life?
The call of a spiritual guide is to lead the world from darkness to light. May I implore you to heed your call and rise to the occasion?
If the happenings of the last sixteen months in Syria do not move you to action, what else would? You might as well expunge the word 'outrage' from your dictionaries. And just as Mr. Assad would be happy to continue ruling over barren, lifeless "street(s) of death" after shelling Syria's towns and torturing its inhabitants to death, you can continue 'ruling' over lifeless souls and a spirituality numbed even beyond irrelevance.
I hope you will forgive me for my long and incoherent ramblings. But what is a helpless child to do? The sights here are uglier than you could ever comprehend. Even if you are brave enough to watch some of the photographs and videos that trickle out, you cannot fathom these sights because even those videos do not have access to the darkest corners of our world. The sights of our world would put your most terrifying visions of hell to shame.
Yet I must return to these sights and start preparing myself to face my impending reality.
Mom, I am scared. I am very scared.
But I know you cannot help me. May God be with you, now and always. I pray for you and my sister. And for the soul of humanity.
With the rise of the Sun today, my world will go dark forever. But every red tear that drips from my eyes will pray for our spiritual leaders so that they may deliver humanity from the darkness that is rapidly engulfing it.
And may redeem God.
The author is chairperson of the World Sikh Council, America Region.
[Courtesy: The Huffington Post]
August 1, 2012
Conversation about this article
1: Kamal Nanda (Hanumangarh, Rajasthan, India), August 01, 2012, 10:21 AM.
Sikh quom di hamesha chardi kalaa!
2: Harpreet Singh (Delhi, India), August 01, 2012, 2:23 PM.
Horrific but true. I also sometimes think about whether one should do something about the tortures, killings, etc. happening around us or we simply read and sing gurbani? Our great Gurus traveled distant places to show the right path to different types of people. Bhai Ghannaiyya offered water and balm to Sikh and foe alike on the battle-front. However it is best that a Sikh veer sitting in America has expressed his concern for innocents so forcefully. Now it is our duty to make it reach maximum people the world over. As per gurbani "raaje sheeh muqaddam kuttey" (kings are butchers and their advisors are dogs) - raaje paap kmaawdey (Rulers indulge in sin) and other quotes from Gurbani, at the peak of Khalsa Chardi Kalaa, our ancestors used to protect the innocent from invaders, aggressors and oppressors. What are international bodies like United Nations, etc. made for if they cannot protect innocents like the Syrians today or Sikhs in 1984. Our sincere prayers to the Almighty for his protection to innocents everywhere.
3: Harry Rakhraj (New Delhi, India), August 03, 2012, 3:26 AM.
What's happening in Syria is horrific. What's happening to a whole generation of children is heart-breaking. And the 'world', the champions of liberty! What are they doing? They're jockeying for politically right positions.