A story on CNN caught my attention. (Thanks, Nikky, for sending me the link.) It was about a photo someone took of a stranger in an airport and posted on Reddit.
It was a photo of a Sikh woman with a turban and facial hair.
This story was posted on September 22, with the caption, “I’m not sure what to conclude from this.” As you can imagine, it invited many comments, ranging from others who teased the woman to people appalled at making fun of her.
The photo was so widely passed around, within days the woman in the picture, Balpreet Kaur, a neuroscience and psychology student at Ohio State, learned about the photo from a friend who saw it on Facebook.
Her response was gracious and inspirational. This is what she commented on the post:
“Yes, I’m a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair,” she wrote. “Yes, I realize that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women. However, baptized Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body – it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being.”
Kaur said her religion believes in focusing on actions instead of the physical beauty.
“I’m not embarrassed or even humiliated by the attention [negative and positive] that this picture is getting because it’s who I am,” she wrote.
She encourages anyone who sees her on campus to “come up and say hello,” and notes that it’s not her face that’s important, but the smile and happiness that lie behind it.
“My attitude and thoughts and actions have more value in them than my body because I recognized that this body is just going to become ash in the end, so why fuss about it?” (CNN)
I wish our political campaigners had a dose of this higher consciousness. I wish the focus was more on service, rather than disparaging each other and pleasing big donors. The mud-slinging seems so childish to me. Like the person who posted the photo of Balpreet Kaur. Picking a thin description of someone’s appearance and defining them with it. Why haven’t we gotten beyond the “us/them” mentality and see that “us/us” is a better plan. Divided we can never stand and move forward.
Balpreet’s response did not alienate those that made fun of her, she dissolved the conflict rather than feed it. We, every one of us, have the capacity to forgive, explain, understand, rather than accuse, defend, and ridicule. Let’s use that capacity. Will will feel freer and more in control than we thought possible.