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Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012

From the 'Shepherd Express' Publisher: We Are All Sikhs Today

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Like the rest of the good people in the world, the Shepherd Express community extends its condolences to the Milwaukee Sikh community and the 27 million Sikhs throughout the world for the tragic events that occurred at the Oak Creek temple on Sunday. When a horrendous tragedy like this occurs, we often feel very helpless as fellow human beings; at the same time, we want to do something to help.

In the back of our minds, we understand that we, or our loved ones, could be victims of the next senseless attack. When we live in a free society, we also understand that part of the price for this freedom is the fact that events like this can occur. We all want to reduce the number of tragedies, but there are no simple solutions. Some will call for more police control, even if it means giving up some freedom. Unfortunately, we moved in that direction after 9/11 and, indeed, we lost some of our freedoms. On a very small level, just look at how much more difficult it has become to simply board an airplane. Curbing freedom is not the American way to respond. We value freedom and do not want our country to begin to move in the direction of locking up people who some feel may be a threat. We don't want to veer in the direction of a police state.

However, if we cherish our freedom, we have to get involved. If there are people we know who are suffering from some mental illness that causes serious anti-social behavior, we can't just pretend we don't see it. In a case like that, we are not doing anyone a favor by minding our own business. We need to either help the person get some kind of assistance or talk to someone who can help the person, such as a family member or good friend. If we work with individuals who spew racist comments and attacks, we have an obligation—as citizens in a civilized and free society—to confront that language, albeit in a non-combative manner. Again, putting our heads down and pretending we don't hear it is not the action of responsible, freedom-loving citizens. It is never fun to intervene in touchy situations, but it is important because it takes the effort of an entire society to remain free.

Here's how you can help
:

  • The Sikh Temple of Wisconsin has set up a fund for the victims of Sunday's attack. Donations can be mailed to Victims Memorial Fund, c/o Sikh Temple, 7512 S. Howell Ave., Oak Creek, WI 53154.
  • The website We Are Sikhs, www.wearesikhs.com, was set up by the family of Temple President Satwant Singh Kaleka, who was killed while trying to save the lives of others on Sunday. All of the donations will go to lower-income families who lost loved ones, those injured in the shooting and repairs to the temple. None of the funds will go to the Kaleka family; they have generously set up this site for the benefit of others.
  • On Sunday, Aug. 12, the Violent Femmes' Brian Ritchie, Kirtan with Ragani and others will perform a benefit concert at 7 p.m. at Shank Hall, 1434 N. Farwell Ave. The minimum suggested donation is $10. All funds will go to the Sikh Temple. For more information, go to www.shankhall.com or www.raganiworld.com.