I was a bit nervous but to my delight in the next 5 days I would speak to 10 of my neighbors and they all were so enthusiastic and amazed at this project. Many others regretted that they did not have time and some were camera shy but they all read my fliers, learnt about Sikhism and me and appreciated the idea.
Next came the Interviews. I spent on an average a couple of hours with each neighbor (more with the famlies).
At first I got a chance to share our backgrounds with each other. We discussed our roots, ethnicities, religions, culture and customs. My neighbors asked me a lot of questions about me and Sikhism. I learnt that I had hidden treasures in my neighborhood consisting of an educator who is a cancer survivor and adopted child and has dedicated her life to working for children with disability, of a doctor who is a son of great scientist that identified the Salmonella bacteria and is committed to improving health through proper nutrition in the society, of his wife and Yoga teacher who wants to bring about world peace through helping bring inner peace to their clients, Mothers who teach their children to respect all besides their obvious differences, fathers who put their families first and grandparents who are always their for not only their families but all their neighbors in need. I learnt about Christian Sciences, Judaism, Catholicism and Protestant faiths, of Hispanic, Latin American, Western and East European origins. They asked me Why I wore a Iron Bracelet, what my uncut hair meant to me, how I dealt with kids being insensitive to me because of my unique appearance. They learnt about the Sikh Philosophy, history and demographics.
After sharing our backgrounds and beliefs with each other we were thrilled to find that even though we were rooted in different parts of the world, practiced different religions, we had so much in common in terms of family and faith values, love for humanity, nature and animals and everyone was really concerned about war, hunger, human rights and environmental degradation and wanted to serve the underprivileged.
One of my neighbors shared with me how kids would bully her because of her ethnic background when she grew up. Everyone welcomed learning about Sikhism and was happy to have know about this wonderful all accepting and close to nature religion. They loved the idea of this project.
The highlight was learning about the Alliance for New Humanity from Mrs. Bulmash. The Alliance believes that we are all connected and can bring a change in the world by Personal Transformation, Connection and Service. They address Poverty, Human Rights Abuse, War and Environmental degradation through various projects. She mentioned that even without being a member I was doing the Alliance’s work…Ofcourse I said, That’s exactly what Guru Nanak asks of me.
Next we got a chance to share our views on what the sources of conflicts in the world are and how can we as individuals bridge the gaps in human race. We talked about greed, power, ignorance and ego. The responses on solutions filled me with hope. I found that My neighbors already believed in the concept of Ek Noor or One light. The idea is to celebrate what binds us together and not dwell into what divides us.
We also decided that if humanity had any chances, it was possible only if the Youth stepped up and broke all boundaries that divided the mankind, if they took the onus of being the Change Agents of the Future through humanitarian, educational and political process.
The Third Step was the most difficult one. My biggest challenge was to put all this treasure into 20 minutes. I spent hundreds of hours painfully cutting those jewels I gathered to fit into this film.
Fun part was Overlaying with the right music and adding credits. My Mom's friends wrote two original tracks for the film.
Hundreds of hours (that cut my Summer Vacation so so short) later:
I bring to you my work from this little step I took to bring the humanity a little closer, all inspired by the message of Guru Nanak, in the hope that you will all do the same. Won’t you reach out to your neighbors and share the jewels of love, peace and harmony too ? Won’t you celebrate the message of One Light? Together our baby steps will make one giant leap towards a better mankind.