By Gurveer Singh
BUENA PARK: There is a saying in Tibetan, “Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength. No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.”
I would first like to offer my condolences to all the victims and families of the Wisconsin shooting. Growing up in America is a challenge in itself, but being raised in a time of hatred is even more so.
I quote from Professor Amardeep Singh, “As a white supremacist, it seems safe to suppose, what mattered to the shooter was that he hated difference — and saw, in the Sikh Gurdwara at Oak Creek, a target for that hatred.”
I agree with this quote. I envision and hope for a future in which Sikhs make up an instrumental part of the United States and are accepted by all Americans. Education about the Sikhs is a wonderful effort, but it is simply not enough.
Sikhs, as a community must become an integral part of the country, to ensure that this tragic event does not happen again. We must involve ourselves in all aspects of American society, especially legislation and law enforcement. Sikhi is a way of life.
My grandfather in India always reminds me, “To be a Sikh, one must first be a good human being.” Each one of us needs to be the best we can be, academically and professionally, but above that, in character.
All Sikhs need to give back to the communities that they live and work in, by volunteering, supporting causes and participating in local events. One prime example, is the Sunday evening langar provided by this Gurdwara and The Sikh Center of Orange County to the homeless shelters at the National Guard Armory in Fullerton and Santa Ana. These shelters are organized by Mercy House. Also, Sikhs should respond to incidences that affect communities other than our own. These uphold the basic principles that our Gurus set out for us – To labor honestly and share our earnings, while always remembering God.
Sikhs historically have always faced adversity and oppression with `Chardi Kala’ or optimistic high spirits. Sikhs must be a visual manifestation of their beliefs, as ‘resilient, positive role models.’
Let me end by quoting Brad Henry, the 26th Governor of Oklahoma.
“Something called ‘the Oklahoma Standard’ became known throughout the world. It means resilience in the face of adversity. It means a strength and compassion that will not be defeated.”
Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh
(Gurveer Singh, who is a 12-year-old student at Fairmont Private School, Anaheim, California, delivered this speech at the Buena Park Guru Nanak Sikh Temple after the Wisconsin Sikh Temple massacre exactly two months ago)