Sometimes it's hard to follow the news. Sometimes it's boring or frustrating. Sometimes it's mindless or tragic. But sometimes, it is necessary.
Amongst all the violence, hate and terror that has been covered in recent months - from the Colorado shootings to the Chik-Fil-A debacle, nothing has upset me more than news of the shooting at a Wisconsin Sikh temple. I'm not going to relate the details to you here - you can find all the information you need on other sites. But what I am going to say is this: terrorism is a cycle, fed by anger, hatred and, most importantly, ignorance. And this act was terrorism - terrorism against a group that believes in universal equality and social justice. A group that contributes peacefully to their community and views themselves as Americans. A group that, since 9/11, has faced the vitriol of ignorant haters who confused the turbans they wear in religious observance as indication of some political affiliation with Osama Bin Laden and radical Islam.
In all honesty, this makes me fear for the future of this country. How are children raised in a country as multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-religious as ours not aware of the difference between Sikhs and Muslims? And between Muslims and radically motivated psychopathic terrorists? I learned the principles of Sikhism in the 10th grade - everything from the names of their ten gurus to the items they wear to identify their faith. I also learned the tenets of Islam and the ways the religion has branched and shifted into the several differing strands you see today. Yes, I went to private school but was this education so uncommon? Worse yet, the man responsible for this crime served in the U.S. military, where, one would hope, some training on the religious and ethnic groups involved in our oversees activities should be given.
Terrorism is a cycle. Osama bin Laden didn't emerge from a vacuum. Scholars and historians have examined every step leading up to 9/1, from colonialism to modern economics. Things were done in the world, by Americans, by Europeans, by Middle Easterners, to create a world in which Osama bin Laden could inspire men to board planes and fly them into buildings. Wade Michael Page didn't emerge from a vacuum either. Things were done in the world, by terrorists and Americans alike, to create a world in which a man like Page - and his neo-Nazi brethren - have the opportunity to terrorize and murder Americans. Terrorism begets terrorism. Let's just pray it ends here.
President Obama expressed his dismay over the shooting and credited Sikhs for their contribution to the country as part of the "broader American family." I'm not sure what he means by "broader," but as far as I'm concerned, Sikhs are as much part of MY American family as any group or individual who believes in living peacefully in this country. If you haven't already, search the web and educate yourself about Sikhism. It's a beautiful religion. And when you see a person in a turban in your neighborhood, just imagine how brave they must be to live in a world like ours and still proudly proclaim their identity. If nothing else, that should earn them an extra smile from you.