Dear Wade Michael Page

From: Journey of a Sikher

 

The Author

 

Dear Wade Page,

When we raise our children we instill in them the sacrifices that were made in our history. How our Guru’s
taught us to defend others, to put humanity in front of all of our actions. Yesterday I had to tell my son
about your hate, I had to explain to him how his small turban may make him the target of unjust hate and
as a parent I welcome that. I welcome that my children get strength from these challenges in life, I
welcome that they question who they are, why they are as these are the foundations of spiritual
development. Some may want to shelter their children from every storm, from every challenge, yet I owe it
to my forefathers who laid down their lives for our identity, to those who stood steadfast in the face of any
challenge.

My dear misguided friend you felt powerful holding a gun, and firing at innocent people, you felt that your
mission and your message was going to clearly resonate and create an environment of fear within us. I
can assure you failed badly in this, as the community you chose to target has seen much worse, has
endured even a price on their heads yet they did not give up their faith, their identity is still intact.

Our message has always been of tolerance and acceptance, the US government failed, the media failed
to allow the Sikhs to explain their identity, so people like you made us easy targets to direct hate towards.
Our children were bullied, our community was discriminated against, we were heckled, attacked and even
killed yet we did not fold under this pressure. In a decade of constant images you and others have made
us the face of the enemy, knowing nothing about us, not knowing the fact that the enemy you just started
fighting a decade ago we had been against since our existence. The enemy of hate of terrorism of
forcing beliefs is what we have made a living standing against. We upheld religious freedom, we upheld
even those beliefs we did not ourselves believe in yet you did not educate yourself of the difference.

We even welcome that, we pride ourselves of standing in the front lines to absorb hate, this is what our
identity is about. It is not mistaken, if you thought we were Muslim or you did not does not matter to us, as
nobody should be the target of such a crime. Our identity puts us in the forefront of constantly shaping
our resolve we do not feel it a burden, in fact it is our biggest strength.

Unfortunately this is not the first, nor do I think will be the last attack on Sikhs because we are an easily
identifiable minority. Each morning when a Sikh in the USA has tied a turban, they have fully known that
this distinguishes them from the rest, it makes them stand out, it opens the opportunity for ridicule, for hate,
discrimination and bullying, yet despite all that they continue to do so. Such is the spirit of the Sikhs for
their article of faith. The turban is not just a symbol; it is a part of every Sikh that ties them to something
greater, something that connects them to their roots, and their spirituality.

Wade Page you chose the wrong group of people, fear is not in our vocabulary. The fact is that out of
all the massacres, nobody tried to attack the shooter, yet in the Sikh massacre even while you had the
more powerful weapon, a Sikh tried to stop you.

Sikhs resolve is robust, and though many in our community try to assimilate to fit in when tragedy strikes,
there are an ample number of those who use this to strengthen their commitments to their faith.

Aryan nation/KKK whoever is out there, we did nothing to deserve this sort of hate, yet it is ok, you brought
the fight to the right group of people we have defended others against what you stand for throughout
our history and can continue to do so, you want to see less turbans? You will only see more now, as this is
the way our psyche works.

Your hate and bigotry is water for the seeds of our perseverance. We don’t just pray for the betterment
of all; we are willing to back it up with action. You wanted to break us, to make us fear, to make us
question our identities, my friend you have only done the opposite.

Wade, wherever you are now, please do try to find Aurangzeb, and Zakareya Khan and talk to them,
discuss with them how you all have collectively failed to make even a dent on the Sikhs, and while you are
there also let Bin Laden know that his image may have hurt the turban, but we will never give it up and
vow to restore its glory not as a symbol of fanaticism or hate, but as a symbol of justice, equality and
spirituality.

reprinted with permission of the author

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One Reaction

“As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on August 5, 2012, in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, August 10, 2012,” President Obama, USA

For once, my country has done something I can agree with. Thank you, Mr. President.

American flags at half-mast in respect and mourning for the dead.

Bhai Seeta Singh

Bhai Parkash Singh

Bhai Ranjit Singh

Satwant Singh Kaleka

Subegh Singh

Parmjit Kaur Toor

We can take great pride especially in the courage of Satwant Singh Kaleka ji, who fought the shooter with what I have read is “a simple butter knife,” but in reality was more likely his kirpan.  The time the murderer had to contend with this brother was time people could get out of danger.  We will never know how many lives he saved.

So…what now?  I think it is most important that we hold our heads up and become the embodiment of a dignified, muted form of chardi kala.  Something terrible has happened, yet we maintain our self-control and faith in the future and in the goodness of our fellow human beings.  Perhaps others will disagree with me, but I think that while we show grief, we need to act with great dignity and strength.  Rightly or wrongly, people are judged by how they react under pressure in times of crisis.  This is the first time many Americans have been aware of the Sikh community and what they see now will leave a lasting impression.  What that impression will be is up to us, collectively and as individuals.   Yes, my heart has been ripped from me and my soul cries, but I will leave the tears at home.  Unfortunately, American culture equates tears with weakness.  I will be solemn and respectful, but I will also be strong.

Nanak naam chardi kala

Tere bhane Sarbatt da bhala