Who Is To Blame For Seven Recent Deaths In The Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin?

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The shooter, society, our education system...or Sikhs themselves? - Dr. Harsimran Singh

Harsimran Singh, Ph.D.

It is unfortunate that hardly anyone knows about the peaceful nature of Sikhs other than the Sikhs themselves.

As seen on CNN, on August 5th, 2012, seven people including the gunman died tragically in a Wisconsin Sikh Temple shooting. The temple’s visitors were preparing a celebratory Sunday meal when around 10:25 a.m. CDT, the 40-year old white male – now identified as a former Army soldier Wade Michael Page - burst into the temple and opened fire on startled congregants and police officer.

Although the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which is primarily handling the case, does not have a positive motive, Police Chief John Edwards of Oak Creek Police Department disclosed that the incident is being treated as “domestic terrorism.” Chief Edwards stated that because Sikhs are often mistaken for Muslims, that possibility is being considered by the FBI as motive.

Since the attacks of September 11, 2001 by the Taliban, an Islamic terror group, numerous violent incidents have been reported against the Sikhs. Majority of these assaults occurred due to the cultural ignorance of the attackers.

As the causes of the Wisconsin shootings continue to be discussed in the media, the blame is majorly put on the lack of education. But who is responsible for educating the public on cultural matters? The Sikhs themselves!

No one knows the peaceful nature of Sikhism better than the devoted Sikhs themselves. Sikhism is a monotheistic religion that was revealed to Guru Nanak, the Sikh Prophet in the early 16th century. It primarily represents a peaceful message of tolerance and love for all humanity. It upholds the belief that all human beings are equal in the eyes of God.

It is unfortunate that as a community, Sikhs did very little to separate themselves publicly from the Taliban terrorist group following the Sept. 11, 2001 events. Although hindsight is 20/20, public cultural education would have prevented many of the violent incidents of mistaken identity in the Sikh community since 2001, eleven years ago.

One may argue that it is the responsibility of Americans to educate themselves, yet that it is an idealistic principle in a country where parents argue that homework is mindless busywork. American grade-school education is unable to cover in detail the ethical aspects of each culture and with the declining number of youth attending college, where cultural tolerance is further explored; there is a growing need for outside education. This outside education MUST be hosted and directed by the individual cultural community.

Dr. Harsimran Singh, like many, believes education is a power and will reduce, if not stop, the violent attacks against the peaceful people. As seen on http://www.SpiritualDirections.org, he is the only man to have written comparative studies on 10 world religions including Sikhism, Judaism, and Christianity. In the light of the incident, Dr. Singh is hopeful that Sikhs begin to educate other cultures on their ways to prevent any further mindless attacks on the innocent. He also strongly believes that American education system is in desperate need of overhaul.

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Kristina Centnere

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