The horrible shock and the stinging pain of the attack on the Gurudwara at Oak Creek, Wisconsin will take time to subside, but the horrid memories of those directly impacted by the attack may never completely dissipate. If there is one thing that can go a long way towards the healing process to start is for the perpetrators of this heinous crime being brought to justice – thus providing a sense of closure for those affected which will help them reconcile with the gruesome incident that has transpired. Bringing the perpetrators to justice also assumes prominence as it is realistic to assume that the deranged and disgraced army veteran had supporters and perhaps active accomplices who still pose credible threat to the community. These elements, if present, have to be dealt with and nullified for the rampant fear to ease and the trepidation to pass, not just within this tiny community but for the sake of all those vulnerable communities around the US. This will allow for life to get back to some semblance of normalcy and allow for the healing to begin after the trauma that was so mercilessly inflicted by a disturbed madman.
The attacker, identified as Wade Michael Page, has been called a neo-Nazi, a white supremacists among other things – and yet this notwithstanding, he has managed to find some sympathizers as pointed by some news reports. These points to the fact that there are others who feel the same way as he did and there are possible scourges that have to be monitored – and if needed – persecuted, although these agents of chaos are a big minority and are never likely to cause any real harm. However, even the possibility of an attack will strangle or impugn the principles of freedom and liberty that the great nation of USA has been built around and will singe the road to normalcy.
The champions of freedom and the upholders of the righteous must address this issue and protect the rights of its citizens to the best or risk losing leverage on the moral high ground it takes on international matters around the world. India is also expected to play its role as a facilitator and a concerned party to the cause owing to its large Sikh population with its actions largely being dictated by domestic compulsions. In this regard, regional Sikh entities like World Sikh Organization and the North American Punjabi Association (NAPA), along with prominent religious entity like the Akal Takht and all the other places of worship the world over will a play crucial role in allowing the population to cope with the evil that has been perpetrated against them.
If there is to be a positive that comes out of the tragedy that played out on that unfortunate day in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, it will come from the incident proving to be a strong precursor towards a “real change” that addresses the core issues that culminated in such a horrible incident. There are many possible steps that are being contemplated by the forces of change, but any hasty or stopgap measures will be a real let down. It is important to explore the primary factors and causes that have manifested in this deplorable incident. Be it a hate crime or a case of mistaken identity or even just a senseless murderer on the rampage, every leads should be pursued and all possible angles and probabilities be probed in its entirety to its logical conclusion. It will help in establishing a credible and effective deterrent for miscreants and other anti-social elements to make sure that the vulnerable feel more secure and the weak feel protected.
Although condemnation, outrage, sympathies and protests have been flowing in from all quarters and everyone is standing solidly behind the bereaved community of Oak Creek and the larger Sikh community as a whole, it will only make tangible and lasting difference if concrete results are seen on the ground and impacts visibility felt. There have been talks of better gun control laws, installing security cameras, increasing police protection at Gurudwaras and other places of worship, which although promising, is only a start and more needs to be done to convince those impacted and threatened that the authorities are committed to their cause.
It is often said that it is at times of real adversity that real heroes come to the fore, and Satwant Singh Kaleka, the President of the Gurudwara, and Lt. Brian Murphy of the Oak Creek Police Department, have emerged as heroes who saved the lives of others by putting their own lives in danger. Their heroism should be used as a fillip that drives result-oriented actions that ultimately emerges out of the rhetoric and symbolism that is expected and does serve a purpose. It is an election year in the US where tough decisions and sweeping changes would be difficult, but there are many in the United States and around the world who expect that the government and the security agencies to do its best to avoid a repeat of such an atrocity against any community, creed, race or religion, anywhere.
For anyone who has been lucky enough know the Sikh personally would vouch for their selflessness, undying spirit, their zeal for life, and the unrelenting patriotism that they exhibit no matter where they are. The Sikhs are known as a hardworking bunch of people who add to any cultural diaspora they are part of. They are an affluent and influential part of not only the Indian society but have made a name for themselves no matter where they reside. Renowned for their fierce bravery, kindness, strong religious belief, and unwavering loyalty, the Sikhs have made their name in the field of business, agriculture, academics and medicine et cetera. Their sheer grit and steely resolve will allow them to overcome this awful episode, and if by any chance the preachers of hate and violence thought that they have the Sikh community intimidated, they will realize how wrong they were. They will soon bear testimony to the legendary gallantry and unmatched perseverance of the Sikhs as they venture on a long road towards recovery and healing.