Friday, April 21, 2017


It’s Sikh heritage month and I saw a post on facebook about the story of our Minister of National Defense, Harjit Sajjan. When he was younger he was friends with a gangster and subsequently turned his life around, became baptized, joined the Vancouver Police department and then served in the Canadian Forces (1). It was inspiring to read about the work he has done. It also made me think about the image of perfection, and what we expect from other people. Maybe some people would label his past as a skeleton in his closet, but he is quite open about how it has actually shaped him. Without his background from when he was younger, maybe he would not be as passionate today about speaking to youth about staying away from gang life.

There’s a lot of effort that we spent towards building the perfect image and reputation. A large part of that goes into not appearing to have any difficulties and coasting easily through life. Somehow you have to be successful without the hardship. I think it is unrealistic for us to put people on pedestals and not expect them to make mistakes. It is unrealistic to expect people not to have weaknesses, and insecurities. It’s simply being human.

When we look past “perfect” and actually get to know people, their stories are amazing. I think in this sense of striving to look perfect, we lose real opportunities to connect with people and we lose authenticity. Yesterday I had this really great conversation with a pharmacist and we were talking about the culture of medicine. I’ve talked about medicine many times with colleagues but it usually ends up with people just piling on complaints and it’s a negative space. Instead, he listened, then asked questions and really tried to understand what it was like in my shoes, and shared his own experiences about his training. Instead of being a list of complaints, this was a meaningful conversation about how our experiences shape us, how we learn from what doesn’t work and how we change things for the future. I think the key to that whole conversation was that instead of pretending his job was perfect and he enjoyed every minute of his training, he was honest, and I did the same. We can accomplish something far more important when we actually just relate our experiences. After all, isolation and feeling like you are alone in your experiences is quite possibly one of the worst things we can do to a person and connection does the opposite of that. I think in general, the people in our life that don’t judge us when we are honest about our struggles and mistakes, and that support us in our growth and learning are the ones to keep close. In order to do that of course, we have to be willing to let go of our desired image. It’s different when you say “of course I understand Gurbani” and you don’t, versus saying “I have a hard time understanding Gurbani” and working on it together. I know I’d much rather be in the second situation of having that opportunity to work on it rather than just pretending but we have to be willing to actually be seen. I’ve learned the hard way that not everyone has the ability to learn to put themselves in your shoes, or relate, and some people simply don’t even care, but every once we meet someone who reminds us of how important it is to let go of showing people what we think we are supposed to be, and be willing to share and be seen for who we are. In each interaction we also have the opportunity to also sit as the listener, let go of judgement, and place ourselves in someone else's shoes and try to understand and relate our own experiences as well. 


  1. Here is another Sikh role model. MPP(Ontario) Jagmeet Singh. Trial lawyer who speaks French, English, Punjabi,Taekwondo champ, and someone actually cares about Delhi 1984 riots where many Sikhs lost lives and property in Hate riots(he introduced a motion in Ontario legislature in April

  2. Harjit Sajjan..oh boy. It doesn't take long to bring the Hero down to Earth.


    Sikhs celebrate him around the world. He gave us all hope...finally we have a hero we can look up to. A week ago, he went to India, Punjab celebrated his accomplishments

    One slip of tongue...he claimed to he was an architect of a war programme, which he was NOT...just that boast(his big fat ego)..tarnished his image..

    He could have been HUMBLE...

    What Harjit Sajjan really did while serving in Afghanistan
    At 'no time was he in on the planning' of Operation Medusa, soldiers tell CBC News

  3. To be fair to Harjit Sajjan, perhaps it was just semantics. His Sikh culture could have help him mingle better with the Afghans. Sikhs are said to be the ONLY tribe to have defeated the Afghanis during Ranjit Singh's time

    1. All that happened after I wrote this post but you know it really kind of comes back to the point of the post of not putting people on pedestals and saying they are perfect, because we are all real. Without being him, I can’t really say why he said what he said, or what he was thinking, but he realized his mistake and apologized for it. It’s so hard for people to be in the public eye. I can’t imagine having my every mistake broadcast and just being torn apart by the media from everything small and big. I would imagine any one of us could appear as a monster or a hero depending on how we are presented. I don’t think this takes away the fact that he’s still a great role model and has accomplished a lot.

  4. Well said. We are are ONLY human, suspitble to faults, not perfect.

    One another subject, I was looking into what "Shabad" means...

    then came up with Math and music..vibration

    Pythagoras' Music of the Spheres