I have wanted to write about the shootings in Wisconsin of my Sikh brothers and sister but just couldn’t find the right words. I was stunned and heartbroken by the act of a single gunman motivated by hate and ignorance. I remain distressed by the suffering the families will now experience.
I am a Sikh. I am a woman. I wear a turban. I have lived with the disparaging and hateful words and actions of many ignorant people. I never thought a day would come when Sikhs would be massacred in a Gurudwara, a place of peace, community and love in my beloved country of America.
Perhaps I never thought it would happen but I have prepared for it. After 9/11 and the killing of a Sikh in Arizona I became even more security minded. I had a man try to drive me off the road a week after 9/11. I learned to become smart and observant of my environment and those around me. I knew when I went to the airport, I would be stopped and checked. It is part of my life now.
Sikhism is a religion of inclusion. We believe all religions are equal and everyone has the right to practice their religion. We will be the first people to stand up for the rights of all religions. We believe men and women are equal. After every service, a meal is served which has been loving prepared and cooked by the community. All are welcome to our services to experience their spirituality and God.
Our greatest love is to work hard and share what we earn. We serve our communities and help those who are most needy. This is who we are as Sikhs.
Sikhs are fighters. We will fight for the righteousness and the dignity of all women and men. It is not words. We live it. We care for the communities we live in. Part of our day is devoted to meditation and prayer. I rise in the early morning hours and do meditation, yoga, chanting and pray. It is the essence of my life and I find strength in it. It sustains me in times of stress. It is my coffee.
And yet, most Americans see a turban (yes, women also wear turbans) and think the worst.
I am uplifted by the outpouring of love and genuine concern by friends, family and random strangers. My husband’s Chairman of the Board, called him and cried. Sikhs have had an opportunity to educate about our religion. I hope it can be sustained and understanding achieved.
On August 23, 7PM at the Trinity Church in Boston, there is a community gathering organized by the Council of Churches. This service is a remembrance of those killed and support of the Greater Boston Sikh Community. It is open to everyone with much love and hope.
The only path to take is not revenge, but to continue in the grace of my faith. I pray and send my heartfelt love to the families of those killed . I pray and am thankful for the heroic actions of the officer and that he will have a full recovery. And I pray that no one else no matter what religion or situation will have to suffer such loss.