Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Are We All Your People? A look at the Wisconsin Shooting.

I am an American Sikh, however I wasn't going to write anything about the tragic shooting in Wisconsin because I didn't think I had anything original or new to say.  And I don't.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying anything that many of you have not already thought, and even put into words.

But since I am a wordsmith, or so I like to think, I am obliged to say something.  So this is what I came up with:

There were tears in my eyes every time I heard or thought about the shootings for days.  I am not by any means a good Sikh.  I'm not religious.  I like to think I'm spiritual and many other things, but this may be a figment of my imagination.  But I know that these people in the Wisconsin Gurudwara seemed close to my heart because they were saying the prayers I grew up saying, making the food I grew up eating, they were wearing the things I saw people wearing in my community all my life.  They were my people.  Everyone has a group of people that for whatever reason, are close to their hearts.

Now, if this happened in a Mosque, would I have cried?  Should I have cried?  Are they not my people, as well?  Do they not breathe the same air that I do?  Drink the same water?  Walk on the same Earth?

I would not have cried if this happened in a Mosque.  This could mean that I am by no means a good person.  I like to think I am, but again, I could be hallucinating.  If I'm good then why do I only care about people who look and act like me?

My point is, if you are not a Sikh, for a moment, realize that Sikhs are just regular human beings.  Six human beings with friends and family and a life, died.  They died because some guy thought they were bad guys.  He thought he was in a movie and was going to be the brave soldier who killed the bad guys.

I would like to speculate as to why this incident really happened.  I may be wrong.  I think this happened because we live in a society that is obsessed with violence.  We live in a society that sees the world in black and white, where there are good guys and bad guys, and the good guys must kill the bad guys.  If we don't kill the bad guys, the bad guys will kill us.

Back to 9/11 for one moment.  The bad guy was a man with a beard and turban, translation:  all men with beards and turbans are bad guys.

Are we really that stupid?

Not all of us.  But in fact some of us are.  

We know in our hearts that it's not that simple.  But when we dance around when the bad guy is dead i.e. Osama Bin Laden we are teaching our children that when the good guy kills the bad guy the war is over.

No, no, the war has just begun.  The real war is within us.  The real villain is the one who thinks that wars are ended by violence.  Wars end because someone wants peace.  Killing the bad guy, Bin Laden, didn't end anything except a man's life.  

But why do we watch movies and television shows and read books like the Hunger Games that are all about violence?  What are we trying to escape from and what are we escaping into?

We are at war.  We are at war with ourselves.  That man, Wade Page, who shot all those Sikhs did not hate Sikhs as much as he hated himself.  We know that in our hearts.  We don't even know if he knew what a Sikh was.  He probably hated Muslims, but for GOD SAKES, does it even matter at this point!  They say that most White Supremacists don't come from racist families, rather they come from homes where they are abused or neglected.

Do I feel sorry for Wade Page?  No, I'm not there yet.  I want really badly to be there, I want to feel bad that he died.  But I don't care about him.  I just don't care.

What I do care about is the rest of us.  How long are we gonna pretend that as a society we did not create a Wade Page?  We willed him into being by simply hating and fearing.  He heard us, even when we whispered.

Who are your people?  Am I one of them?

Because I like to think in end we share a soul or something, maybe we even share a god.

Would you cry for me?



  1. I think you make some really good points. For me, the shooting made me sad for exactly the reasons you mentioned: the victims were people with friends and family. They weren't doing anything to warrant the violence. It breaks my heart that anyone can be so off-track that he or she thinks harming others does anything to prove their point. When something like that happens, we all lose. No one more than the victims and their families, but we all lose something. As far as being Sikh, I think I also understand your point. For you, there is a connection. That makes the sadness (and anger) on a more personal level. Whereas, for me, it's more just a general sadness. Yet, if an act of violence were to happen in a church in the denomination I attend, I would feel a connection that would make it more personal. But, overall, if we aren't sad when horrible things happen to ANYONE, that's where the real problem is.

    And I agree with your thoughts on Bin Laden, too. I was so disappointed in the way people celebrated his death. I understand that taking his life may have been the "lesser of two evils" but to celebrate it? No, thanks. Be sad that someone was such a threat that it had to come to this. Be relieved that a dangerous person is no longer dangerous. But don't strut. Don't act like killing someone is cause for a party. That doesn't make any of us better people.

    Your perspective was really well-written.

  2. Thank you Audreya, your perspective was very well said also. When hate and violence happen to anyone, we should all be hurt. I am reminded of a phrase I once heard, "If there is a man lying in chains anywhere, none of us are free."