By now you have probably heard of the recent shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin this past Sunday. It has definitely shaken up the whole Sikh community.
“When things are down and darkest, thats when we stand tallest…”
It has caused us to come together to educate our communities about Sikhism, and look at the larger issue here: ignorance. Since 9/11 anti-Islamic sentiment, according to the FBI has risen 1600%. Although Sikhism is a separate religion than Islam, we have always considered them as part of our human family. The “War on Terror” waged by our previous president who will not be named, along with other factors, has made fear of differences take a front seat in our political discourse. I’d say fear in general is used as a tool to manipulate and control many Americans. It is “us vs. them”! We need to take this tragic event as a wake up call. Here is an excellent article by a young Sikh woman for CNN about her family and her vision for a new, more aware America
How you can support the Sikh community, educate yourself and cultivate peaceful relationships with those different than you:
- #1 EDUCATE YOURSELF Narinder Singh, Sikh Coalition chairman, discusses efforts to clarify misunderstanding about the Sikh community. A short interview with SALDEF on NPR
- EDUCATE OTHERS
- Find a vigil near you: http://www.kaurista.com/event, http://www.sikhcoalition.org/get-involved/act-now/information-for-community-support
- Visit a Sikh temple. Services happen on Sundays usually starting around 11am and ending around 1 with a meal. Anyone and everyone are always welcome to come to the services (please remove your shoes and cover your head) and share in the meal afterwards.
- Visit any temple of a different religious denomination than you.
- Get to know someone who is different than you. Who are those people that you look at and think, “I wouldn’t want to find myself in a dark alley with them” or even. Who are those people that scare you or gross you out? Who are those people you automatically don’t like before meeting them just because they look or act in a way that is foreign to you? Maybe it’s someone who wears a turban, or a headscarf, or an elderly person who smells funny, or a differently-abled person who you feel you can’t relate to, or a homeless person. People are more similar than you’d think. Buy them a cup o’ coffee, talk to them.
- Have a conversation about this hate crime and hate crimes in general.
- Meditate/ Pray and send healing to those affected. May we see ourselves in the other and act through love, not hate.
- If you are part of a Sikh community, contact your local media, start Sikh 101 classes, DO MORE SEWA in your local community so that you may be known for your selfless service,
- Support the Wisconsin Sikh community and find out more about how you can get involved.
- Donate to cover medical and funeral costs
- Be more self-reflective and introspective. Are there people you dislike even though you have never met them? Why? Can you let it go?
Whatever you choose to do, even if it is tweeting about this or making it your facebook status for a day, please do not perpetuate this cycle of hatred. Take this as an opportunity to feel compassion, send out a healing prayer to all those affected and check yourself. How often do you feel fear or dislike towards someone who is different than you? Educate yourself. Do not act from ignorance and impulse. Do not believe everything our politicians, the media and society tell you. Think for yourself.
Can you look into the eyes of another, who you may fear because they are different, yet see their human-ness which is the same as yours?