Transcending Anger and Fear: The Sikh Way
The vigil in front of the White House last evening for the victims of Oak Creek massacre was beautiful. I think about 400 people attended. It transcended the fear, confusion and anger evoked by this massacre and focused our energy towards a common purpose: love and care for each other and unite against hate.
I felt like I could breathe again being around and embraced by a loving community. The organizers of the event fed everyone there with delicious homemade, vegetarian meals. I was told that the victims were shot while preparing for the traditional meal together. They missed this sacred meal before their lives were taken.
It was very moving that sharing a meal was a big part of honoring of the dead and healing the community. It also creates a powerful foundation for building a new larger community brought together by this terrible event.
Since the massacre, I made some real friends in the Sikh community in person and online. I'm especially in awe of the inspiring young people who worked hard to put together this vigil in a short time.
It was also great to run into some old friends like Ryan Clayton, Dave Kumar, and Kishan Putta. Just seeing them there deepened my connection with them. I also had a chance to meet bright-eyed and lovely interns from the Organization of Chinese Americans. It really gives me hope to see young people who get it and act on it.
Amongst the pain and anger caused by the massacre, there has been one priceless gift for me: learning more about the Sikh religion and community. Learning about them makes me think that there is still beauty, meaning and sacredness in the world.
For example this is part of their belief: Everyone is equal before God. A good life is lived as part of a community, by living honestly and caring for others.
Contrast that with this lyric from a song by Wade Michael Page's band, Definite Hate: What has happened to America/That was once so white and free?
Or this from a white supremacist reacting to the massacre: Take your dead and go back to India and dump their ashes in the Ganges, Sikhs.
This is my message to the Sikh community: Thank you so much for your moral and spiritual guidance during these troubling and frightening days. You are a shining example of what America is and should be about. Love and Peace to you all.
This is my message to President Obama: Please don't delay and go visit victims' families. They need your support and America needs you to stand strong against hate.
This is my message to friends and fellow Americans: Let's stand with the Sikh community and unite against hate.
Annabel is a writer, filmmaker and speaker who is known for her innovative work in netroots / grassroots activism. She has made numerous TV and radio appearances and has been invited to speak throughout the US and Asia. Her writings have been published by cnn.com and the Washington Post.
She co-directed a ground-breaking documentary about America's culture war over immigration, 9500 Liberty, with Eric Byler. The critically acclaimed film has won three film festival awards and was released on cable by MTV.
She is the founder of the Coffee Party, a growing grassroots democracy movement with over 500,000 people in the network. The Coffee Party has been featured in stories by national and international media.