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Murders in the Sikh Community Show Need for Unity

by Todd A. Smith

When Spider Webs Unite, They Can Tie up a Lion

 

            The violence was unprovoked and was totally devastating.  The recent murders of Sunday worshippers immediately sent shock waves throughout the Sikh community.  Moreover, those shock waves have reverberated throughout the country, leaving many wondering what can cause such evil and malice.

            On Aug. 6, Wade Michael Page, 40, senselessly murdered six worshippers from the Sikh community before fatally wounding himself. 

According to the Washington Post, Page had immersed himself into White supremacy after being demoted and released from the military in 1998.  He had even immersed himself into racist rock music and blamed his time in the military for making him sympathetic to that cause.

            “The lyrics to the songs these bands sing could not be printed in any newspaper in this country,” said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center.  “They are incredibly vile.  They call for the murder of all Jews, all Black people.  When we say it’s hate music, we are not kidding.”

            Many in the Sikh community believe they were targeted by Page because he mistook them for Muslims, which leads to a bigger problem for America and the world at large.  Where is this hate coming from and what can we do to unite all people despite our physical differences and different ideologies? 

            Like it or not, America’s history of civility is ripping from the seams.  From the senseless murders in Aurora, Colo., to the great Chick-fil-A debate and to the tragic murders within the Sikh community, America has a problem with intolerance.

            When many think of tolerance, they think about it from only one perspective, their own.  Many believe that others must accept them and their differences, but many do not feel they owe the other side the same luxury. 

Tolerance does not mean accepting the arguments and views of others without disagreement, but it does mean respect and love despite our differences.

            Many Americans believe it is hate when you disagree with their point of view, as made clear with the Chick-fil-A controversy, but ignore the hate they spew as if their opinion is the only one that is valid. 

Hate is wrong no matter who it is directed at, but you cannot condone hatred towards one group and complain about perceived hate when it is targeted towards a group that you sympathize with.

            Too many Americans ignore “Islamaphobia” because of what terrorists, who happened to be Muslims, not all Muslims, did on Sept. 11. 

Furthermore, too many people in general ignore the hatred and violence aimed at Christians worldwide, although they may contribute to that hatred with their angry and evil rhetoric.

            In an Egyptian village, south of Cairo, the Christian community is literally running for their lives because of religious intolerance.  According to the Associated Press, as many as 100 Christian families fled to nearby towns because of the violence aimed at them.  The village’s Christian minister had to be hidden by a white sheet in order to escape the village.

            The dispute, unfortunately, erupted after a dispute about a poorly ironed shirt in which Christians are accused of burning a Muslim to death.

            The violence around the world and the recent violence in the Sikh community of Milwaukee underscore the problem that we have with hate in this world. 

Whether it be atheist versus Christian; Christian versus Muslim; Black versus White or gay versus straight, we as a people need to realize there will always be differences amongst us.  One cannot expect anybody to change their religion or their view on life just to please the other side.

I have heard the argument that religion is what divides people, however, I see people dying all of the time because they are divided on something as simple as being fans of the Texas Longhorns versus the Oklahoma Sooners or the Los Angeles Dodgers versus the San Francisco Giants.

Anyone who believes that we will all agree on everything one day is extremely naïve.  The world is too diverse and we should embrace that diversity with love and respect. 

We need unity, but unity does not mean we all agree, it means we all agree that everyone deserves respect, despite our differences.  The tragedy in the Sikh community is a clear indication of the need for unity.

There is an Ethiopian proverb that states, “When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.”  The spider webs are all of the people who reject violence as a way to handle our differences, and the lion are those that use hatred as an excuse for violence and evil.  It is time that we tame the lion and tie it up for good.

This article was published on Friday 10 August, 2012.
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