A recent Ottawa Citizen "Ask the Religion Experts" question was, "What takes more courage, to believe or not believe?" WSO's Balpreet Singh's answer from a Sikh perspective is below. For the replies from the other experts, please see here.
From a Sikh perspective, it certainly requires more courage to believe than not to. Faith requires courage by default. When one starts on the path of spirituality, there can be many questions and doubts. It requires courage to believe in something that we cannot touch or see or ever be fully able to comprehend.
Living the Sikh faith, however, requires a particularly large measure of courage. The Sikh faith wasn’t meant to be practised anonymously. Sikhs believe in the principles of equality, freedom of religion, and standing against injustice. But in order for beliefs to become action, Sikhs wear their faith as their identity. With our articles of faith such as the turban, uncut hair and kirpan, we affirm our internal convictions in an open and public manner.
The identity was specifically established so that a Sikh cannot hide or melt into the crowd. Wherever there is an opportunity to serve those in need, Sikhs have a duty to stand up as defenders. Living up to that role requires an immense amount of courage. Because their distinct identity makes them easier targets, Sikhs have often faced persecution throughout their history.
Although things are very different here in Canada, I still meet many Sikh children who tell me of how hard it is to stand out in a crowd and about their experiences of teasing and bullying because of their turbans. Being young is never easy, but I can’t help but admire the special courage of these young people. I myself remember growing up as the only Sikh child in my school. The experience wasn’t always an easy one, but it forced me to fully appreciate my beliefs and learn to explain them to others. It also strengthened my convictions and has had a large role in making me the person I am today.