August 5, 2012: A day marked in history, not only for the Sikh community or Oak Creek, Wisconsin but for terrorizing our homes of faith.
The shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin will always be remembered as an act of discrimination and hatred.
The shooter and white supremacist Wade Michael Page shot six and wounded four victims early Sunday morning in the serenity of the Sikh house of worship.
Page, a United States Army veteran, was a man defending the United States of America: A land promised for all, people of different religions, races and nationalities. But he was full of hatred, which led him to a mass murder and later to his death. The reason for his rampant shooting remains unknown. Perhaps he thought he was killing Muslims, a group he despised because of the Sept. 11 attacks by radical Islamists.
Sikhism represents equality. One of the core beliefs in the Sikh faith is that men and women of all faiths and races should be treated equally. With tightly tied turbans representing dignity and honor, Sikhism is a faith based on respect.
Sikhs welcome people of all faiths to visit the gurdwara to learn about the Sikh faith and culture. Langar, offered at the gurdwara, is a unique part of their seva, which offers free and daily meals to all. Little did Page know, he would have been welcomed into the gurdwara to pray, find peace and eat a hearty meal.
Following the horrific events of August 5, it was said, “We are all Sikhs.” These acts of hate are not only targeted towards the Sikh community, but towards all communities, regardless of race and color. Discrimination does not have boundaries, and we see that more and more in our post-Sept. 11 societies.
Discrimination does not have boundaries, and we see that more and more in our post Sept. 11 societies because hate crimes have drastically increased. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, and as mentioned by South Asian American Leading Together’s former executive director Deepa Iyer, the number of hate groups has increased since 2000. The increase correlates with the country’s rapidly transforming racial landscape since 48 percent of hate crimes are motivated by race.
What does this horrifying statistic tell us today? It tells that we have more work to do, because it would be foolish to believe that hatred will disappear on its own.
Firstly, we must continue to honor the lives lost, while addressing the emotional and mental needs of the victims families. Then we must continue to track hate groups to prevent future massacres, while rebuilding faith within the Sikh, Hindu and Muslim communities.
Two years after the shooting, as Iyer states, young Sikh-Americans are working with non-Sikh groups to build better partnerships within the community to connect more faith groups together.
We must remember that hatred does not respond well with hatred. The words of Mahatma Gandhi ring true: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”
While hatred cannot be erased, it is a battle worth fighting. We will continue to fight them through rallies, petitions, posts such as this, and a strong-willed belief in the betterment of humanity.
Feature Image Credit: A.S. Nagpal Photography
Subrina Singh is a passionate young writer. After completing her degree in all-things-South-Asian at Stony Brook University, she is now pursuing her Master’s Degree at Columbia University. Recently, she has become committed to using her experience with mental illness to help better the mental-health awareness within the South Asian community. Subrina enjoys writing, reading and drinking Starbuck’s Passion Tea Lemonade while singing Bollywood hits of the Golden Era. Follow Subrina on Twitter for her reactions to Pretty Little Liars every Tuesday night!