I awakened from a dream about the Wisconsin shooting of a Sikh temple–a gurdwara (“Gateway to the Guru”). It was not a narrative dream but the disconnected images seemed to ask a single question: Why?
At the time of the dream I knew nothing about the shooter–background, motivation, history of violence, mental state, family life, upbringing–except that he was male, 40 years old, a former Army soldier. I’ll not use his name. All of the unknowns of his life factored into a context. He had guns and knew how to use them. There was a recent high-profile shooting in Colorado. There was a target: people who undoubtedly are not like this man.
They are so different, in fact, that their clothing and hair are distinctive; the turbans set them apart. They have a separate community within a suburb near Milwaukee. There was a significantly large assembly at the same place and time. Perhaps worst of all, their religious life, race, culture, language, and country of origin are unfamiliar and somehow “strange.” Sikhs are often confused with Muslims; violence against both distinctive groups has gone up significantly since 2001. Since the Milwaukee shooting, a mosque in Joplin, Missouri, was burned to the ground.
They are Other.
Perhaps that explains the curious lack of media coverage. Yes, it was reported. Yes, one can find info on the web. We were pretty saturated with coverage in Aurora, CO, just a couple of weeks, when there was television coverage for hours on end. More of us relate to going out to a movie than with Sikhism or face it, even going to a worship service of any kind.
What do we have in common with Sikhs? Best I can figure out, they believe in one God, in human equality, and in service to the community. Here’s what Amanda Yaira Robinson has to say, with links to further information.