The Sikh faith is the 5th largest religion in the world. It is a monotheistic religion, founded in the 15th century in the Punjab region which today straddles the border between India and Pakistan. One of the major principles of the faith is equality of all people regardless of caste, color, class, culture, gender, wealth, or religion. Which makes it even more ironic and even sadder that a white supremacist/neo-Nazi, as he has been called in news reports, was the gunman in the Wisconsin temple shooting.
News reports said that he entered the temple, or Gurdwara, as women were preparing a meal, a meal that is central to Sikh beliefs and community. The first Sikh Guru established a free community kitchen in the 15th century. Today, free food is served in all Gurdwara and is prepared by the Sikh congregation and then consumed by them and their guests while sitting at the same level on the floor next to each other since there is nothing lower than the floor. The purpose of the meal is to both feed the needy and to eliminate any type of caste system. While eating together, there remains no difference between rich and poor, superior or inferior, for all present are eating the same food at the same level.
During the preparation of a meal that symbolizes the equality of all in the sight of God, among a people who hold equality of all as one of their highest principles, a gunman full of hatred killed at least 7 people and wounded many more.
I don’t know what to make of all of this. I pray for the victims, their families and friends, the perpetrator and all people who are consumed by hate, and for all of us. I remember two famous quotes:
“As you press on for justice, be sure to move with dignity and discipline, using only the weapon of love. Let no man pull you so low as to hate him. Always avoid violence. If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in your struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1956)
“If sacred places are spared the ravages of war…then make all places sacred. And if holy people are to be kept harmless from war…then make all people holy.” (J. Michael Straczynski)