There remains too much hate in this country, and in this world. Hate drove a man to murder six Sikh Americans in their Oak Creek, Wisconsin temple earlier this week. But in this country and this world there's also compassion and support.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder both spoke at a gathering of hundreds of people of different faiths organized to pay respects to the victims. Holder called the murders a hate crime that "is anathema to the founding principles of our nation and to who we are as an American people." Walker added, "No matter what country your ancestors come from, no matter where you worship, no matter where you’re from, as Americans, we are one." These are worthy sentiments that reflect what I hope and believe a majority of Americans think, namely that hatred based on religion or race is itself anti-American.
But what really touched me was reading about the reactions from the members of the Sikh American community themselves. One person came from across the country to attend the memorial service, and spoke of the unity he felt with his fellow Americans who came to honor the victims:
Prabhjot Singh, co-founder and trustee of the Sikh Coalition, traveled from San Francisco to Oak Creek. He said it was important that so many people showed up for the service. People of all races and ethnic backgrounds filled the gymnasium.Speaking of the compassion and support the community has received from Americans of all ethnic and religious backgrounds, here's what Harpreet Singh Kapur of Oak Creekhad to say:
“It validates that we are all Americans,” Mr. Singh said. “Hate and the killer were not successful. He wanted to divide and we have come together. ”
No matter what the shooter did, he failed, because instead of pulling us apart, he made us closer. It will get stronger from here. We didn’t realize that we have such support from other members of society until this happened. Now we realize how much they care about us. We feel more close to other faiths and other religions now more than ever before.Think about that statement.
What an amazing, inspiring thing for this man to express only a few days after this horrific crime. Reading what Mr. Kapur had to say gives me hope that what brings us together will continue to be stronger than what divides us.
PS-It's also worth noting that the New York Times has printed article after article about the shooting and the aftermath. There has been an article (or two) every day for seven days after the shooting occurred, many of them about the Sikh community (as opposed to the gunman). Some have argued that the coverage of this incident paled in comparison to the coverage of the murders in Aurora, CO. Irrespective of what TV is doing (I don't watch enough TV news to be able to judge), I wanted to give the NYT credit for its extensive, multi-faceted coverage, and for covering not only the crime but the Sikh community of Oak Creek.