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The Power of Silence

Purple border with white space in centre. On left is a piece of art showing 204 pairs of golden footprints on 23 ct. gold on indigo dyed hemp paper. Text reads: The Power of Silence

Artwork: "Missing Paths", 2021, 23ct. Gold on indigo dyed hemp paper. Rupy C. Tut

More recently, I have felt that silence (on social media) has offered more dignity to human life than responding to the horrors taking place in our world.

The month of June bites at the core of the Sikh community as we grapple with the ever lingering trauma of the 1984 genocide of Sikhs, for which families still seek justice. Stories of “sadistic torture, ruthless killings…calculated ill-treatment of women and children” as described in Mallika Kaur‘s article for Guernica Mag TEN THOUSAND PAIRS OF SHOES, have been passed down through generations. And yet some survivors choose silence, as their way of healing, not able to relive the heinous events.

"Missing Paths", 2021, 23 ct. Gold on indigo dyed hemp paper. Shared with Permission. © Rupy C. Tut

“Missing Paths”, 2021, 23 ct. Gold on indigo dyed hemp paper. Shared with Permission. © Rupy C. Tut

215 human bodies found buried on the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School, raising generational trauma for the Indigenous Peoples. These stories were shared through oral storytelling but the uncovering of this truth leaves no doubt about the atrocities that took place by settlers on stolen lands. The deaths of these children were never documented and families have been seeking justice for decades. The National Residential School Crisis Line was set up as part of the 2015 report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, hoping to foster healing for survivors. How can healing begin, without answers?

Heartbreaking images of children being pulled out of the rubble in Gaza have haunted my mind, of the Palestinian people praying in al-Aqsa mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, not aware of the events to follow. I can only imagine the heaviness that sits on the hearts of our friends and neighbours with families and loved ones in this region.

Farmers sit resolute in their belief that the fight for food sovereignty affects all of us. They look like our grandfathers, our grandmothers, all protecting the very fields we loved and played in during our visits to India as young children. The fields, now poisoned with pesticides, cultivating debt instead of fresh food, are swallowing the potential of future generations.

Gun violence has, and continues to take too many lives.

These are all human lives impacted by those in positions of power. Sarbat da Bhalla – the liberation of all – is a call to action we are reminded of daily in our ardaas, perhaps when nobody else is listening.

I am learning not to underestimate silence. Silence, sometimes, can generate enough power to scream.

Image of author with thank you message for supporting a small, independent press.

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