This Sunday will mark one month since the shooting attack on Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Since the attack, Punjab Singh, one of the victims, still remains in a coma.
It is a good time to pause and reflect, and to continue to pray for the recovery of Punjab Singh.
After the attack, I talked about watershed moments in Sikh history — certainly Oak Creek is now one in the story of America’s Sikhs. A post today on The Sikh Foundation website puts the Oak Creek attack in historical context:
In any case, from a small two-storied building in Stockton [California] in 1912 to a17,000 square foot gurdwara in Oak Creek in 2012, the Sikhs have created a unique century of history in the United States. These places of worship reflect the aspirations of the Sikhs, as well as their acceptance, in their newly adopted homeland. The Sikhs have their version of “destroyed temples,” and “murders in the cathedrals,” but their historical response to these tragedies has been of gathering the ashes, washing the floors, rebuilding the knocked down walls and domes, and moving forward.
It was this response by Oak Creek’s Sikh and broader community that I found most touching and inspiring. It did not take long for the community to unite together, in a show of resilience:
The attack on the Oak Creek Gurdwara made national headlines. A website called Newseum compiled a gallery of newspaper frontpages (credit to the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund for sharing) taken from across the country the day after the attack. It is a moving experience to flip through the front pages of these newspapers and see the shared shock all over America about the massacre.
Another beautiful video that has gone viral this week is that of a sky-writing project over Central Park in New York:
Finally, a post today on The Langar Hall considers how Sikhs and Sikh Americans may navigate through the future:
As Sikh Americans, how can we take responsibility for maintaining a non-ethnocentric framework for Sikh heritage, history and values? We need to create a body of Sikh literature that is not just relegated to scholars of Sikh studies or followers of Sikhism. We need to read literature about Sikhs and write our own narratives to share with the non-Sikh communities. Today, as we are thinking about the myriad issues facing the Sikh community trying to make sense of the tragic shooting at the Wisconsin Gurdwara earlier this month, we need to re-evaluate our social responsibilities. Perhaps, some are blaming it on ignorance, bigotry and the prevalent prejudice against Sikhs; perhaps there are others who are attributing the incident to one individual’s paranoia about Sikhs.
As we emerge from the cloud of these events, the lasting impacts are of course most felt by the victims and their families. But, there are also implications for us all.