The recent tragedy in Wisconsin has stunned and shocked Sikhs and non-Sikh across the world. Last Sunday’s shooting took place in the Oak Creek Sikh Temple and resulted in the death of six victims. Here, we would like to share some of the message of condolence we recieved from individuals and organizations.
A central tenet of the WSO is to promote tolerance, acceptance and solidarity between all religions and faith. Openness and trust among people is necessary to share, build, and support connections between different groups and communities. The incident has been a horrific calamity for the Sikh people. It is also one that has united people from all walks of life in solidarity to stand up and defend others against prejudice and senseless acts of violence.
The outpouring of thoughtful emails and condolences we have received has been a shining example of this. The sympathies expressed by individuals, groups and organizations has been highly motivating and encouraging.
As letter to us by Len Rudner, the director for community relations for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) said, “Words have little meaning at such times yet often they are the only tools we have to convey what the heart would offer. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Sikh community during this dark and painful time.”
Rev. Dr. Karen A. Hamilton, of the Canadian Council of Churches wrote,. “I send to you and to your community not only my prayers at this tragic and heart-breaking time, though I send those from my very depths, but also my renewed commitment to doing all that I can, in words and deeds, towards a world of peace, compassion and the celebration of life.”
Ishaan Gardee, Executive Director for the Canadian Council on American Muslim Relations offered “condolences for those killed or injured”, and wrote “the Canadian Muslim community stands shoulder to shoulder with our Sikh brothers and sisters in condemning this senseless act of violence.”
From Mississauga Councillor Bonnie Crombie, “ In the coming weeks and months, as the community grapples with the events that transpired in Wisconsin, please know that the thoughts and prayers of my family, my staff and the City of Mississauga are with you and the entire Sikh community. We stand with you to send a message that this type of violence has no place in our society, that religious intolerance is unacceptable, and most importantly, that the victims will always be remembered. All people should have the freedom to practice their religion in peace and security. This event may have shaken the Sikh community, but it will not break its resolve.”
The WSO has also received numerous emails from individuals, and our supporters. From those who do not have a gurdwara in their communities, to others who possess an enlightening and positive knowledge of the Sikh faith.
“I know you must get a lot of emails everyday concerning different issues and problems people may have, and you must be thinking that this is just another one of those emails. Well you're right, it is, but I am not just a 16 year old student from Toronto, Ontario, I am a girl who was not only shocked, but absolutely horrified when I first saw the news about the shooting on television. I could not believe that someone would commit such a cruel act of violence to innocent people from a completely harmless and honest religion.” - Noreen Warring
“The recent tragedy in the US, has caused me to wish to reach out to the Canadian community of Sikh, with love and support. I have been searching online to find of local community here in Fredericton NB but I see there is no Gurdwara here. If there is any way to show my solidarity with your community, please make me aware of it. I have learned from your site, what a beautiful religion Sikhism is and I pray for your peace and protection. May you all be safe, happy and holy.” - Shelia Crotty
As the WSO has witnessed, the Sikh community of Wisconsin has been provided with an outpouring of support and empathy from a wide array of individuals and organizations. As the interfaith Dallas Center for Meditation has written us, we must “stand firmly beside [one another] in spirit and in action, mindfully in the face of whatever insanity, violence or suffering may face you and us and them. For in Truth we are all One.”
Finally, a poem sent to us by Farida Bam:
Life is a very precious commodity
More precious than silver & gold
We seem to guard it for dear life
For we know not what the future holds
On a beautiful Sunny day
The Innocent victims came to pray
Not knowing within a few hours
They will be blown away
Those bystanders who
Witnessed this horrific crime
Forever will be etched
In their memory
Till the end of time
Words fail to express
What I wish to say
That I sincerely pray
This irreplaceable loss
Will never be in vain
Our prayers are with you
In your hour of need
Please kindly accept
Our deepest sympathies
And sincere condolences.