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

The Real Threat From The Christian Right In The USA


This is hardly an optimistic way to open a new blog, but I believe this is something that everyone in the United States of America, especially those who are not “Bible-believing Christians” needs to know and take to heart.  This makes my blood run cold.   This threat is real.

Nearly a year ago, I had a very disturbing conversation with a woman aged 30, an immigrant from Kenya.  She is a devout Christian, or rather a follower of the televangelist, John Hagee, a man who claims to be “anointed of God” (whatever that means) and who has a large world wide following.  For my purposes, the rest of the world doesn’t matter right now.  I am concerned with his plans for the United States of America.  He teaches that the USA is a Christian country, not a secular state and always has been.  The separation of church and state is a myth espoused only by secular humanists (atheists, of course) and is not what was intended by the Founding Fathers.  To him and his followers, that means that non-Christians have no right to be here and we can be forced to leave at any time.  This is what this immigrant woman was telling me.  She was serious.   

Of course, traditionally in America, people must be left free to believe whatever they believe, as long as they don’t trample on the rights of others.  This is where the problem lies.  This group believe that others have no rights.  Mr. Hagee has repeatedly invited atheists to leave on the next plane out.  [1]  A big problem here is that he defines anyone who doesn’t believe in God as presented in the Bible as an atheist.  I am making the assumption that most of you reading what I write are Sikhs.   In his book, we are atheists and are welcome to be on the next plane out.  That is unsettling enough, but he goes further.  As I said above, he proclaims that this country, the United States of America, is a Christian country and always has been.  He bases this idea on the “fact” that the Founding Fathers were all Christians, a “fact” that is either an error or an outright lie.  Several of the Founding Fathers, among them Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and co-author of the Bill of Rights and Benjamin Franklin, writer, inventor and first ambassador to France, were Deists.  Deists believe in “the God of Nature,” basically a belief in a Creator that crafted the universe and its natural laws and then did not directly participate in its affairs, including the affairs of humankind.  In fact,

 Most of the Founders were Deists, which is to say they thought the universe had a creator, but that he does not concern himself with the daily lives of humans, and does not directly communicate with humans, either by revelation or by sacred books. They spoke often of God, (Nature’s God or the God of Nature), but this was not the God of the bible. They did not deny that there was a person called Jesus, and praised him for his benevolent teachings, but they flatly denied his divinity. [2]

In addition, several, among them George Washington, the first President, who is much revered among the Christian Right, were Freemasons, a group much-despised by the evangelicals.  This is either lied about or ignored;  it cannot explained away.  Although they are a secret society, today, much can be learned about them from Masonic Sites, such as AskAMason.org.  [3]

All of this is somewhat personal to me.  On both my father’s and my mother’s side, my ancestors came to North America in the 1600s.  Although both of my parents, now deceased,  were Christians, they both came from Deist backgrounds.    In addition, my father was a 32° degree Mason and my mother a member of the  Eastern Star, a women’s auxiliary to the Masons.  As a teenager, I was invited to join either Job’s Daughters or the Rainbow Girls, Masonic organizations for young ladies, but I declined.  I had my own ideas about how I would live and they did not include joining secret societies.  That does not change the fact that my ancestors, many of them non-Christian  helped to build this country, with the intention that people would be free to believe or disbelieve as they chose.

I do not want to wander too far afield here.  My point is that there is a powerful group in this country that wants non-Christians out.  Let me make one thing clear.  Nobody, nobody is going to force me out of my home.  This is my place and and anyone trying to drive me out will have a major bottle on their hands.  I am a fighter and I know how to fight, intellectually, politically, economically and, if need be, physically.  If I choose to leave, then I will go, but I cannot be forced out.   I am tired of fighting, but if it comes to this I will fight.  If they want to compel me to go, they will have to ship out my dead body or my ashes.  I quote one of their favorites, the German Protestant reformer Martin Luther back to them.  “Here I stand.  I cannot do otherwise.”[4]

Remember, the fundamentalist Christian Right consider all non-Christians, except Jews [5], to be anti-religion, heathens, pagans,  atheists.  Surprisingly, this includes not only the descendants of the founders of the nation, but even those who were here before, the so-called Native Americans, Indians, First Nations.  When I pointed out to the lady I was talking with that they were here first, she shrugged her shoulders.  “If they want to stay, they can be baptized and become Christians.”  She smirked at me.  “So can you.”

[1]http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=75b1FMzGTB8

[2]http://freethought.mbdojo.com/foundingfathers.html

[3]http://askafreemason.org/

[4]http://www.greatsite.com/timeline-english-bible-history/martin-luther.html

[5] This is based on a verse in the Hebrew Scriptures where God tells the Jews, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse…”  Gen. 12:3.