HOPE AND ASSURANCE AT A TIME OF SIKH AMERICAN TRAGEDY
Massacre at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin
Kanwal Prakash "KP" Singh
Indianapolis, Indiana USA, Dave Singh-Michigan
Sikh Americans across the Nation and in Indiana have been comforted by the interfaith community, civic leaders, neighbors, and friends following the days of the tragic massacre at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin last Sunday. There have been voices of reason, hope, healing, and pledges to come together to not just dispel the darkness of the moment, but to take concrete steps to end the cycles of unprovoked violence in humanity’s sacred spaces: schools, playgrounds, workplaces, theaters, shopping malls, and places of worship, which are and should remain islands of peace.
At Wednesday night’s Prayer Service and Candle Light Vigil, these sentiments were expressed by religious leaders representing many traditions and denominations: Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and Sikhs from across Indiana at the Sikh Temple (Acton Road) Indianapolis. There were expressions of deep sorrow, solidarity with Sikh Americans, and desire to network together to dispel ignorance that is divisive, contributes to suspicion and mistaken identity, and sometimes leads to violence and unconscionable hate crimes against the innocents gathered for peaceful assembly, exercising their sacred rights to “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.”
“We come today from our different places, with our diverse cultures, histories, and languages. We are Indianapolis, so many different tones of skin, shapes of eyes, textures of hair and lifestyles- all beautiful- all one …. We are many faces, but one City!” Rabbi Dennis Sasso
Similar sentiments were expressed by faith and civic leaders on Thursday’s Rally for Unity on Monument Circle, Indianapolis.
“Any attack of such brutality angers and saddens us, but the murders in Milwaukee yesterday were especially heartbreaking and ironic. I have long known many members of Indiana’s Sikh community; I have attended services at their Temple. They are among the most productive and communitarian of all our citizens and theirs is a faith of gentleness and toleration. I know the hearts of Hoosiers are with those directly harmed and their Sikh brethren here among us, for whose daily practice of loyal citizenship we are deeply grateful.” Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels
“Today, we stand with our Sikh brothers and sisters, our fellow citizens, our friends, with faith and determination, believing that none of us can be strong alone until we are all strong together, resolving that together we can all make a difference in our communities.” Rabbi Sandy Sasso
We prayerfully reflect on the precious lives of innocent victims and families shattered by this great tragedy brought upon by a mad man on peaceful worshippers gathered at the Sikh Temple for prayers, petitions for cherished hopes and thanksgiving for answered prayers. We deeply mourn and grieve that our sense of safety and security once again has been unconscionably shaken. The deadly incident has sent shockwaves to all peace loving Americans who cherish freedom from fear at places where families and generations gather to venerate a higher spirit or to celebrate the blessings of life. This is not just a Sikh tragedy, but also an American tragedy; a hate crime and an act of domestic terrorism in house of worship against a peaceful community. Even amidst darkness of the moment and immense grief, we must find cause for hope, healing, and seek to harness our collective strengths, common hopes, and dreams as Americans and members of the human family.
We reach out with our heart and spirit to those who have lost loved ones or have been directly impacted by the tragedy. We are praying for the speedy recovery of Police Officer Lt. Brian Murphy and others who have been gravely injured during the assault on the worshippers at the Oak Creek Sikh Temple. We pray for our beloved Nation and our fellow Americans, who offer boundless compassion, generosity, and kinship to friends and strangers here and across the globe in their hour of natural disasters and man-made tragedies. For that, we are eternally grateful. “May God’s eternal light shine upon each living beings. May, by God’s Will and Grace, there be goodwill among all people: cultures, faiths, and communities, everywhere across the human universe.” Each of us must dedicate ourselves to the cause of peaceful coexistence, recognize being Children of one Creator, learn from and about each other, and find common threads, inspirations, and prayers that connect us at many levels. Our challenge and future greatness rests on the sacred commitment to make peace with one another, with all who make up the wonderful cultural tapestry stretched today from “Sea to shining sea.” Indianapolis, Indiana USA <> www.KPSinghDesigns.com <> August 10, 2012