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Amazing peaceful response from Sikh community

By now, many of you have probably already heard of the unfortunate Wisconsin shooting at the Sikh temple. The gunman Wade Page, who lost his military career due to a history with alcohol, has ties to North Carolina and held White supremacist views.

It’s difficult when these things happen and we learn from his friends that Page was “a very kind, very smart individual — loved his friends. One of those guys with a soft spot,” who had problems dealing with alcohol, was a loner, lost multiple jobs, and had his home in Fayetteville foreclosed on. And while that all paints him to be almost a sympathetic figure, a lot of people, including myself, are really just filled with frustration and anger both towards him and for him. Why would he see taking lives of others as a solution to any of his problems (if that was what it was)? And why do we perpetuate a racist and xenophobic society, one equally unkind to the socioeconomically distressed, that would drive him to such hateful actions?

And it’s in thinking about all these strong emotions that I find it amazing to see such a calm, peaceful, friendly, welcoming response from the Sikh community:

And it gives me hope.

9 Comments

  1. Jack

    August 7, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    In October of 2006 in an Amish one-room schoolhouse a gunman shot ten girls killing five. The Amish community responded with words of malice toward none.

    Now the Sikh community responds in the same manner.

    It behooves each one of us to take notice and respond in-kind to the world around us.

  2. Sean D Sorrentino

    August 7, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    What I don’t understand is why you are showing sympathy for the shooter. You act like he was some sort of victim. He “lost” his military career? No, he destroyed his own life, then he destroyed everyone elses lives around him. He filled his life with hatred, and no whining about a “racist and xenophobic society” can change that. He’s not the victim here.

    How about instead of repeating his name and giving him publicity for his act of evil, you should talk about the victims and survivors instead. You could start with the President of the temple who attacked the shooter with a knife, following the tenets of the Sikh religion to use force to defend the innocent. It cost him his life, but it appears that he succeeded in driving the shooter outside where he was shot by police.

    And there’s a Sikh temple in Durham.

  3. Ricky Leung

    August 7, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Hi Sean, please read:

    “And while that all paints him to be almost a sympathetic figure, a lot of people, including myself, are really just filled with frustration and anger both towards him and for him.”

    While we all should be responsible for our own personal actions, we should also keep in mind that we do not live in an isolated society. He did destroy his own life and those around him. But on the same token that his actions affected the lives of those around him, society’s social policies, structures, teachings, etc., also had an effect on how he became who he was and consequentially the actions that he took.

    Not everything is black and white and have villains and victims. And even villains are human beings.

    The point of the post is neither to show sympathy for the shooter nor to further villainize him, but to point to a humbling and respectable response that looks past violence toward a message of understanding and unity.

  4. Sean D Sorrentino

    August 7, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    I do not accept that society’s “social policies, structures, teachings, etc” are in any way responsible for his actions. There is nothing that justifies his behavior, and I’m appalled that you would try. You are not responsible in any way for his actions, I am not responsible in any way for his actions, and no group of people is responsible for his actions.

    I could accept that he might have been so out of his mind that he could not understand the nature or character of his actions. If he was so insane that he couldn’t tell what he was doing was wrong, then I will accept that he was not responsible for his acts any more than a rabid dog is responsible for its acts. But any mental state short of total insanity means he knew what he was doing was wrong. And yet he chose those actions anyway.

    In any case, the Sikhs are correct to pray for him. He needs all the forgiveness he can get right now.

    I will ask that you stop naming him. We glorify murderers when we remember their names. Let’s instead speak only of the victims and survivors. All were innocent, and some heroic. They are far more deserving of remembrance.

  5. gregflynn

    August 8, 2012 at 10:07 am

    It’s not glorification. It’s situational awareness.

  6. Jack

    August 8, 2012 at 10:26 am

    I get it Sean, you’re a hard case. You have no room in your life for anything that might bring into question your particular view and understanding of the world. However, if we are truly a Christian nation, as our political leaders say we are, then it does behoove us to think in terms of What Would Jesus Do. But then perhaps such thinking and personal responsibility that Christianity ask of us is considered by you to be among the social policies, structures, teachings, etc. that you do not accept.

  7. Sean D Sorrentino

    August 8, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    Jack,
    Why should I care one way or another about what you think that Jesus would do? You know nothing about my faith, nor even if I have a faith. You certainly do not have any status to speak for Jesus. I sincerely doubt that you have gotten a letter or a phone call from him. Until you have clear and convincing evidence that there exists a supreme being and he/she/it demands a particular style of government, kindly leave religion out of politics. It’s one thing to say “I’m Christian and my faith demands that I do…” It’s quite another to say “We’re Christian, you must do…”

    Here’s what’s really going on in your Leftist “social policies, structures, teachings, etc” cant. You are attempting to blame others for the criminal actions of one. You are hoping that people are stupid enough to accept blame for something that they didn’t do. You are hoping to leverage that false sense of guilt into the power to force change upon the society, a change that they wouldn’t pick otherwise.

    In reality society had nothing to do with the murders. It was the either the considered decision of a criminal mind, or it was the reaction of an insane one. Your lying and trying to spread that blame around is shameful. Your attempt to guilt trip people into giving you power is disgusting.

  8. Ricky Leung

    August 8, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Ok, wow. Let’s everyone take a chill pill.

    Remember when in my original post I said something anger and frustration?

    It’s easy to let our anger and frustration get the better of us and start pointing the finger at people, at circumstances, etc… And that was and also wasn’t the point of my original post.

    The point was that this sort of retroactive blaming is exactly the sort of thing that the Sikh community response is so far beyond. Instead of bickering about who’s right and who’s left and who’s extremist and who’s ignorant, the response here is a call for unity in our common state of being humans and a call for understanding our differences.

    Whether this person made a decision in a vacuum without influence from ideas of anyone or whether this person does not have a mind of his own (both these views, in my personal opinion, are flawed and really points to the ridiculousness of black-and-white thinking), it doesn’t matter, because it happened and I think Rajwant’s response was a humbling and inspiring one and that’s what I wanted to share. I did not post it to feed the trolls, so I am sorry that this conversation has taken emphasis off the message of peace and togetherness that I wanted to highlight.

    (Although, I guess I should not accept the blame for that because I am not the one who steered the conversation in that particular direction.)

    But if we are going down the path of decision making and external factors, there is an entire area of psychology dedicated to studying how environmental factors like social policies, structures, teachings, culture, media, etc. can affect the way people make moral judgements, decisions, and actions. Not to belittle at all the act of pulling the trigger because external influence alone is not the determinant factor here. But as members of society all together, we have collective control over some external influences that may steer a person’s decision one way over another. In consumer research, we see this applied, albeit not necessarily the best ethical decisions by big companies, to sway buying decisions, setting trends, etc. So the role of personal responsibility is still there, but that doesn’t mean that environmental factors do not play a role at all in the way an idea may have birthed a thought which led to a decision and then an action.

    The point of fact is that no matter what your political affiliation or ideology, everyone lives on the same Earth and in an increasingly globalized informational world, we are living in less and less isolated environments, so our ideas, decisions and actions have an effect on those around us. And as our physical selves live in an open system where the air I breathe may eventually become the air you breathe, and the carbon in my body might one day be the carbon in the plants that fed an animal that might become food for someone’s great grandchildren, so the same way our mental selves live in an open system where my ideas and thoughts and actions might influence those of someone I will never meet. And the only real change I personally seek is that hopefully we can all understand that we’re all in this life together and we live in the same world. So understanding each other and learning to live peacefully and supportive of each other is paramount to a stable and nurturing world for future generations.

  9. Jack

    August 10, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    .WOW! When you miss a point you really miss a point.