As hate crimes, violent rhetoric, and polarizing politics threaten to undermine social harmony in the United States, it is easy to feel hopeless, despondent, and helpless. A few months ago, activist Valarie Kaur felt the same way. “Every night, when I lay my son in his crib, my love for him swells up in my heart – and then fear lodges in my throat when I think about him coming of age,” she said. “This election year, it feels like fear and hate threatens to swallow America whole.” But Valarie quickly turned her fear into action and set off on a mission to give her son a better world. “After 15 years as an activist, I’m tired of fighting in reaction to the latest tragedy. I want solutions rooted in love,” she said.
So earlier this year, Valarie left her job at Stanford Law School, bundled up her son, and traveled across the country to listen and learn from other activists. “I discovered I was not alone,” she said. “People everywhere want to know: How can we make love a public ethic in American life?”
This journey led Valarie to create The Revolutionary Love ™ Project – an initiative that harnesses the ethic of love to drive action in personal lives and in politics. Along the way, she met Glennon Doyle Melton, an author and activist who invited Valarie to join her on The Together Tour to share the idea of revolutionary love. Since September 28, Valarie, Glennon, Seane Corne, Rev. Jacqui Lewis, and other special guests have joined together for the six-city Together Tour.
“The Together Community is dedicated to helping each of us identify our unique purpose and turn that purpose into action,” reads their website. “Together, we’re opening our hearts and minds, elevating the people, and things we care about and igniting the change we want to see in the world.”
The Together Tour events are about celebrating hope, finding purpose, and healing on the eve of a high-stakes U.S. election. “Each night we weave a tapestry of stories together on stage – stories of courage, forgiveness, and revolutionary love,” said Valalrie.
So far, Valarie and the crew have visited Portland, Los Angles, and Chicago. They finish off The Together Tour with stops in Brooklyn (October 17), Atlanta (October 19) and Denver (October 24).
While Valarie is sharing Sikh values and The Revolutionary Love ™ Project , she has learned a lot herself while on the tour. “In the midst of deafening hate, bigotry, and misogyny this election season, the women in this tour have been my lifeline,” she said. “Their stories inspire me, and their sisterhood gives me strength.”
It is a powerful event, Valarie explained, where many audience members are moved to tears and their response, in turn, moves those on stage. “During intermissions, women line up to tell me their own stories and are inspired by the Sikh faith’s call to love and relentless optimism,” she said. “I believe that people are looking for an antidote strong enough to counter the rising hate in our nation this election season.”
Valarie’s activism and her message of revolutionary love is rooted in Sikhi. “Each night, I open the show with a multimedia story of the Sikhs [covering] Guru Nanak, Mai Bhago, all the way to Balbir Sodhi, Lt. Brian Murphy, my mother, and Rana Sodhi,” said Valarie. Ultimately, she draws inspiration from Guru Nanak Sahib’s love for all of humanity and looks to his example as a way to respond to the hate of today.
The fight to establish a world based on love where everyone can thrive, as the Guru envisioned, is a noble battle. While it is a never ending one, Valarie has been in more chardi kala recently.
“These days, when I put my son to sleep at night, as the love swells up in my heart, I can still feel the fear in my throat. But it doesn’t hurt as much anymore,” she said. “Because I know I’m not alone – when we come together, love is like the warm water that melts the fear and ambivalence frozen inside us. Love can make us brave enough to act — in the voting booth and beyond.”
Valarie Kaur invites all Sikh families to bring their sons and daughters, colleagues and neighbors, and join with her on The Together Tour to help spread the message of revolutionary love even further. Tickets are $20 at the door with discount code VAL10.
By Lakhpreet Kaur