Hoping to Move Beyond Intolerance
Friends from different faith communities have also reached out, individuals like Brenda Rosenberg, founder of the Pathways to Peace Foundation, or Rev. Bob Hart, the Ecumenical and Interfaith Officer of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. The Diocese's formal statement includes prayers "for the congregation at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, their families and friends and the entire Sikh community, offers of support and solidarity with the Sikhs living and worshiping in our own communities . . ."
And we at the Hindu American Foundation, where I am now an Executive Council member, were also ready with words of solace, wanting to "join all Americans in shared shock, disbelief, and outrage over today's tragic events that unfolded at the holy gurdwara, or Sikh temple, near Milwaukee, Wisconsin earlier today. At least six Sikh Americans are dead, several are injured, including a valiant police officer who killed the assailant, and we face another day of catastrophe that is as outrageous as numbingly familiar."
HAF also issued a call to action "to join Sikhs in mourning a senseless attack and to take this opportunity to not only learn about the sublime teachings of Sikh gurus, the Sikh faith, and the meanings of its external symbols, but also join hands to ensure that the gurdwaras remain sanctuaries of joyous worship and celebrated sharing of langar, or community meals, for generations to come." We are all concerned that this may have been an act of religious intolerance or xenophobia, and seek to stand united and encourage understanding. My journey to faith and interfaith continues, as long as it takes, with friends at my side. As we sing every year (in many languages) at Troy's annual interfaith event for the National Day of Prayer, "We shall overcome . . ."
Padma Kuppa is a writer, IT professional, community activist, wife, and mother working to build a more pluralistic society within a Hindu and interfaith framework. You can also read her blog A Balancing Act, at padmakuppa.blogspot.com. The views represented in this column are not a reflection of the views of any organization of which she is a part.