On Consensus and the Bully Pulpit

Normally when we think of consensus, we think of it in a positive, unifying kind of context – like solidarity. But growing up in 3HO, and having left when I was 18, I’ve developed a different kind of outlook toward consensus and consensus-building.

I wasn’t granted an opinion or a voice once I left 3HO. Had I remained in the community, I could have perhaps worked toward changing things by being vocally opposed to practices, but as I felt at the time, I knew that any hope for change was already futile. I’d be better off living my own life on my own terms, and avoiding the imminent threats of an arranged marriage. But with the decision to leave came the loss of my own history, and even culture. I had to relinquish my identity as partly a 3HO Sikh child, partly an individual to the past, and work toward a new and more autonomous identity in order to discover my own personality. Unfortunately it meant turning over my story to those who remained in the community, and who were able and willing to prop up the faith, and frame the discourse through their own lenses.

On the social networking sites, the self identified 3HO sikhs, who make up less than one-third of the “indiakids” population and chatrooms, are routinely hammering on for an across-the-board agreement on our history – be they individual, or group. They are forcing a consensus without the realization that first, a consensus is far from what is actually necessary for healthy discussion, and second, that they will ever get one.

It’s a pernicious attempt at writing history from the point of view of the bully pulpit.

An excellent example illustrates how cults force mandatory consensus, or non-democratic, authoritarian process:
“I don’t think we went to the same school or grew up in the same community. Whoever Kelly is forgets that they weren’t the only one there.”

Although we did grow up in the same community, I was the only one there – we all were the only ones there. I remember feeling like I was the only one experiencing an overbearing sense of oppression in my community that I was supposed to be proud to call heritage. And although I was not the only one, when I was forced to do corporal punishments, and when I was beaten and slapped around, I was singled out and alone.

Today it remains a real issue that this voice of the overbearing and loud bully pulpit continues to cast doubt on individual histories that are out there and needing to be recounted, for the sake of our own individual progression and growth.

“It wasn’t that bad” does not work anymore for the many individuals born and raised in Sikh Dharma 3HO. If it felt bad, it was bad. No consensus is required.

5 Replies to “On Consensus and the Bully Pulpit”

  1. I keep waiting for someone to comment on this. I know there must be many reading it….

    I just want to say that as an adult survivor of 3ho, I know that all the understanding you have, came the hard way. It took me 20 years to come to the exact same conclusions that you have come to. You are not alone. I started when I was about 20, but it took me 20 years to figure it all out. Good Job!!!!

  2. I went to school at GRD for a few years. Does anyone remember all the letter we wrote to our parents and families were the words were dictated to us line by line?

    One note about these letters. For some reason we were always preparing for exams, getting good grades, and having a wonderful time.

  3. I remember that!!! I wanted to tell my parents how desperately sad I was, how much I missed them and how much I hated being at school but I couldn't. I wasn't allowed. Every letter was read by my teachers and edited. Saying anything that sounded like I was not doing well was out of the question. I just want to tell you all that it is so good for me to finally hear other people's stories, to know that someone else remembers the same things and felt the same as me. I have been very alone in my memories for a long, long time. Thank you for this blog..

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