Promoting Peace – A Sikh Viewpoint

37The Review of Religions – March 2005 World peace is a topic thathas exercised the minds of a lot of political leaders the world over for years. It is an ideal that seems to have eluded them. The Second World War stands out in a war- s t a i n e d twentieth century, not just for the unprecedented scale of the fighting – at least 50 million died as a result of it – but for the potential upheavals that it set in train. Following the end of the war, the United Nations came into being as an organisation to maintain international peace and to foster international co-operation in the resolution of economic, social, cultural and humanitarian pro- blems. It was formed in October 1945 when the major powers ratified a Charter that had been drawn up earlier. Most countries are now members of the UN. I said the topic of world peace has exercised the minds of political leaders. Religious leaders have, by and large, either remained silent or been sidelined as inconsequent. Peace and salvation, you may think, go hand in hand. For centuries, even millennia, religions had seen Promoting Peace (a Sikh viewpoint) An address by Hon. Judge Mr. Mota Singh QC delivered at a Peace Dinner in Baitul Futuh, Morden on 19 January 2005 38 The Review of Religions – March 2005 PROMOTING PEACE – A SIKH VIEWPOINT themselves as possessors of exclusive truths and of unique paths of salvation. In affirming its own faith, each denied the integrity of others. It is time to reach out to one another, with a determination to turn a history of alienation into a legacy of love. In all religions, Judaism, C h r i s t i a n i t y, Islam and other world faiths, the voice of tolerance and moderation has become muted, even unsure of itself. Those who claim to represent religious authenticity have been those who, by and l a rge, reject dialogue, accom- modation and pluralism and speak instead of authority, exclusivity and the uncom- promising fundamentals of faith. As a result, religion in the contemporary world has been again a source of ‘conflict’ rather than reconciliation. In the field of science and t e c h n o l o g y, tremendous strides have been made, but scientific progress is precarious and conditional. If we are only learned without being cultured, we become a danger to society. There is an observation of Aristotle which is akin to saying: ‘Man, when perfected, is the best of animals but, when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all’ since armed injustice is the more dangerous, and he is equipped at birth with arms meant to be used by intelligence and virtue, which he may use for the worst ends. Wherefore, if he has not virtue, he is the most unholy and the most savage of animals. We have seen countless examples of man’s inhumanity to man. In the international sense, the crisis that confronts us is the gravest in the whole recorded history. We are armed with weapons of modern science and the techniques of modern psychology, without ourselves being redeemed from greed, selfishness and love of power. We have increased our power over nature but not over ourselves. Of the many problems that now face the leaders of the world, none is of graver consequence than the problem of saving the 39The Review of Religions – March 2005 human race from extinction. Struggling as we are with the fateful horizons of an atomic age, the achievements of science have induced in our minds a mood of despair making us feel homeless, exiles caught in a blind machine. We are standing on the edge of an abyss or perhaps even sliding towards it. A former Prime Minister of England contem- plated: ‘We and all nations stand at this hour in human history before the portals of supreme catastrophe and measureless reward. Our faith is that in God’s mercy, we shall choose aright, in which case the annihilating character of these agencies may bring unutterable security to the human mind. To choose aright requires the cultivation of the head and intelligence. Escape from decline and catastrophe depends not on scientific ideas and material forces, but on the perceptions and ideas of men and women on the moral judgements of the community. If we choose r i g h t l y, the achievements of science may lead to such a degree of material wealth and abundance of leisure as has never been possible in human history. All this will be possible only if we achieve a revolution in the inner compulsions that control us.’ I pray we make the right choice that those charged with that duty, act responsibly and make the right choice. PROMOTING PEACE – A SIKH VIEWPOINT Hon. Judge Singh was born in Nairobi, Kenya, where he practised as an Advocate in the Supreme Court of Kenya and also served as a Member of Parliament in Kenya. He was appointed as one of the first Asian Queen’s Counsel in the UK. He is a practising Sikh and Vi c e President of the Family Service Unit of the World Sikh Council. about the AUTHOR The Keynote address by the Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community will be featured in the April 2005 edition of The Review of Religions.