(RNS) — Last January, Gurbir Grewal became New Jersey’s fashionable attorney, making him the nation’s first Sikh to function as a nation’s chief regulation enforcement officer and legal professional, a recognition of New Jersey’s reputation as one of the most culturally numerous locations inside the country.
Although Grewal, forty-five, says his religion isn’t the primary motive force of his paintings as legal professionals preferred, its core teachings of provider, justice, and kindness align well with his modern policy method.
As he regularly does, one can pay attention to this conviction while Grewal speaks about justice for all, especially for the marginalized. In just over a year in the workplace, Grewal has already taken part in dozens of legal proceedings against the Trump administration, every one of which confronts discriminatory, inhumane, or inequitable guidelines.
Grewal, who grew up in New Jersey, attended Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service before getting his law diploma at the College of William and Mary. He became appointed legal professional fashionable by Gov. Phil Murphy in 2017 after a decade as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and a federal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey in Newark.
He says that growing up as a visible spiritual minority has given him an experience of injustice and disenfranchisement due to groups — a view of America that changed into installed remedy through the attacks of September 11.
I spoke with Grewal about his upbringing, what he attracts from his faith, and the relationship between Sikhi and his public career.
This interview has been edited for period and clarity.
I’ve always stated that being a Sikh strains up so naturally with being a public servant. It’s precisely what our lifestyle teaches us to do. But it’s just now, not that. Being a Sikh also lines up with being a public servant who’s, in particular, focused on ensuring justice and equity for every person. There are so few professions that serve the general public, provide fairness, and ensure that everybody’s rights are entirely covered.
So, plenty of who I am and what I accept as true is primarily based on how I changed and was raised, and Sikhi played a large part in that. You want to rise for everybody. You want to ensure that everyone has an honest shot — and an element of mercy runs through Sikhi as nicely.
As a county prosecutor, I could set coverage and form the workplace prioritized instances; that notion pushed me to prioritize cases that treated justice. For example, I could say we’re no longer going to fasten up human beings on low-degree drug offenses because it doesn’t help them or bring everybody justice. We focused as an alternative on assisting those people and their communities.
In my present-day role, I’m answerable for the criminal justice gadget in New Jersey. I can set policies and directives that form how we deal with our communities and ensure justice for everyone. My work ties back to what I’ve discovered and believed about being a Sikh — to work for justice and stand up for those who can’t get up for themselves.
For me, it goes back to Guru Nanak’s radical, egalitarian, imaginative, and prescient. I see that as the inspiration of our religion, and I locate many notions in that. It’s valuable to who we are as a community, particularly if you examine the origins of Sikhi.
I additionally, in reality, love the line from the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh scripture) with the aid of Bhagat Kabir, where he says, “Sura, so pahichaniai jo Karachi deen like het puja kat marai Kabhi na chaadahi that.” (“One is known as a warrior who fights for the oppressed; one who is slashed and annihilated — but never abandons the battlefield (of justice).”
That’s been inspirational, teaching me about its approach to deciding on something. The message I dispose of from this for myself is to have the strength to combat injustice, combat bigotry, and fight intolerance. Whenever I pay attention to those strains, I feel empowered.
There are lots, especially about thoughts around public providers. I always returned to Seva’s concept (“selfless carrier”) and served the ones around us. I ask myself: “Are we doing the maximum we will assist all of our communities?”
I’d also say there’s more to it than just the beliefs. My work is informed through my worldview as a Sikh, and it’s also knowledgeable through my experience as a Sikh in America. You recognize what it’s like to be marginalized; you remember what it’s like to be bothered; you realize what it’s like to be at the receiving stop of bias and hate. And while these studies can be hard, they also can help teach us empathy.
So there’s the empathy we’re taught to have via itual teachings, after which there’s also the empathy that’s producing our stories with oppressive policies, like racial profiling at the airport. To have skilled the one’s styles of oppression, halt that ache, and have the opportunity to assist restore the one’s issues at a large level — that performs into somewhat I do.