As most of you know, my blog entries tend to pertain to the musical realm. This one does not and it will be one that I will never need to try to remember because it has now become ingrained into the “soul’s library” of sakhi’s and stories of the Guru’s times, and those of our current century.
I first heard of the Wisconsin tragedy via a text as we were out with our children and family. The first reaction to receiving the text (which read “shootings at Gurudwara, several dead, possible hostage situation”) was a sense of mental and emotional paralysis. All else became insignificant. It was now all about finding out what happened, getting more information about the details of the events. Very quickly, the story of the massacre was unfolding and I found myself mirroring each incoming detail with deeper emotions. As each detail entered the psyche, the soul cried out for those that were killed, injured or kept hostage. My 9 year old son immediately embraced the situation with curiosity and questions. Yet, this was a different curiosity. It was an intense curiosity, an intense concern, and an intense reaction. He was feeling the pain and questioning the “hate”. At that point, I did not have an answer for his “why”. I could only offer parental comfort to him as I did not have the answer. Any attempts to comfort this “little soul” were of no use. I told him to pray and to do “mool mantar” (a short Sikh prayer reminding us of the essence of God) as a way for him to “realign”. However knowing him, he was most likely already expressing his concerns through prayer.
At that moment in time, it was simply a state of shock, disbelief, an agony, a restlessness. When senseless tragedies like this occur, we collectively go through the motions of various emotions. It touches you in places where it hurts creating deep pain, where it reminds you of all the “hate” you, a family member or friend may have experienced. It brings back the times when at recess someone ripped of your turban because you looked different from the rest, or when you were bullied and prevented from going to the boys washroom or when you were constantly told to “go back to your country paki”. Somehow, we managed to get through all that with the support of our parents, friends, sangat (devotional congregation). We were told to keep the Guru in mind and to face life with an unwavering courage. Visual’s of the Guru’s sacrifices and those of individual martyrs of the faith appear in your mind’s eye to remind you of the essence of the faith and why we have the freedom to practice the same. No matter what situations each of us may have endured, we find solace and comfort with our faith, the sakhi’s (real stories meant to inspire and solidify spiritual values), the sacrifices. With time and evolving wisdom, you learned that your own personal experiences made you stronger, made you understand the idea of perserverance, made you realize that every time you would fall, you would rise even higher. Your principles and values enveloped each cell of you body allowing you to stand above and face injustices, whether towards you or anyone else.
“Hate” does not differentiate. Think of all the innocent Sikh and Muslim’s who (post 9/11), became profiled, singled out and attacked or killed ; think of the “hate” which destroys Mandir’s, Mosques, Gurudwara’s; think of the “hate” that led to the attempted assassination last year of Gabriella Giffords near Tuscon where 6 were killed and 13 injured; the all too recent massacre at a midnight Dark knight screening killing 12 and injuring 58. These stories of “hate” are unfortunately all too familiar to us and too frequent in occurrence.
I still do not have an answer for my son’s question and may never will as to why such “hate” exists and why this massacre unfolded. However, to help him and us channel our emotions in a productive, healing, “Guru-oriented” manner, we can remind ourselves of the “sakhi’s” we grew up listening to, the stories of the Guru’s incomparable sacrifices ; this being the fuel which propagates our faith and gives us the ability to move on from the most deepest and darkest tragedies of life; I remind him to express prayers to Waheguru (God) to seek blessings for “sarbat da bhalla” – may everyone be blessed; may good come to all of humanity; we can help the families who were directly affected by praying for them to have the strength to move forward and thus start the healing process; we can pray for the departed soul’s who are now with Waheguru; I see the entire nation embracing this tragedy and providing comfort with love, compassion and support. Leader’s of the Sikh faith (whether young, old, male, female) are stepping up to the plate in educating and increasing awareness of not only the faith but of the true and purist of humanistic values. All over, we are opening our Gurudwara’s (Sikh place of worship) to anyone and everyone to come and join us for our prayers and vigils and to get any questions answered pertaining to the faith; (yet, this is nothing new as our Gurudwara’s have always been open to anyone regardless of religion, caste, creed). It has become an incredible movement of perserverence, teaching, learning, acceptance. The vibration of “cherdi kala” (unwavering optimistic attitude for life) seem’s to be expanding and growing with each moment, each hour, each day and is welcoming everyone into this “healing circle”. I am also reminded by my wife who says, “we need to implement this spirit, this degree of unity, this depth of passion for anyone or any group that may face similar tragedies from hate”. I am reminded that this is not just a Sikh issue, but a human issue. It pertains to our family of humanity. Inhumane actions deeply affect all of us who live by moral’s of compassion and equality. The massacre in Wisconsin was an unfortunate reality and one that will never be forgotten. A fortunate reality is that our spirits will forever remain “unmassacred”…