(Two years ago today, there was a shooting at a Gurudwara or Sikh Temple in Wisconsin. This is was my response to the shooting ten days after it happened.)
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
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
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
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?