On the morning of Sunday, August 5, 2012, a gunman entered a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin ninety miles from my home in Oshkosh, and opened fire on congregants, killing six and wounding three. Today’s blog explores the travesty of religious intolerance.
Ranting with a Friend
On Monday morning, while having coffee with a friend, the topic of the Sikh temple shooting came up. In a fit of frustration over the fears and ignorance of humanity I expounded, “We suck! As a species, we suck! We are the most despicable species on this planet in all the ways that we destroy each other and are hard at work destroying our world. We suck!” My friend nodded her head in agreement. As a woman who has tried to live the love modeled and preached by my guru, Jesus of Nazareth, I just can’t get my head around the fear that drives another person “in the name of God” to gun down another human being because their beliefs SEEM to differ from their own. (Notice I said, SEEM.) I could use today’s blog to shake my finger of self-righteous indignation at our fearful and intolerant world and at those who make others the target of their own unhealed woundedness (and there might be a little of this anyway). Instead, I want to share a few things I learned about Sikhism. (borrowed from Wikipedia)
What is Sikhism? (Source: Wikipedia)
Sikhi is a monotheistic and a revealed religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region or India by Guru Nanak Dev. In Sikhi, God—termed V?higur?—is shapeless, timeless, and sightless. Sikhs believe that before creation, all that existed was God and God’s hukam (will or order). When God willed, the entire cosmos was created. From these beginnings, God nurtured “enticement and attachment” to m?y?, or the human perception of reality. Sikh scripture proclaims the universality of God, stating that God is omnipresent and infinite with power over everything. Nanak described God as not wholly unknowable. God is omnipresent in all creation and visible everywhere to the spiritually awakened. Nanak stressed that God must be seen from “the inward eye”, or the “heart”, of a human being: devotees must meditate to progress towards enlightenment. Guru Nanak Dev emphasized the revelation through meditation, as its rigorous application permits the existence of communication between God and human beings.[ The essence of Sikh teaching is summed up in these words: “Realization of Truth is higher than all else. Higher still is truthful living”. Sikh teaching emphasizes the principle of equality of all humans and rejects discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, and gender.
Ok, here comes the self-righteous ranting. As I read the above description of Sikhism, I see NOTHING that differs from the core beliefs of Christianity (the gunman’s professed religion), Judaism or Islam for that matter. The only difference I see is that the name of the prophet differs and perhaps some of the cultural traditions and rituals related to Sikhism. Ironically, we see the same kind of religious intolerance in this Sunday’s scripture.
Elijah kills in the name of God
If you were to attend Catholic mass or the service of many mainline Protestant churches this weekend, you will have the opportunity to read from 1 Kings 19. It is a little story about how Elijah goes on a rampage and kills all the prophets of Baal and Asherah, the religions that “competed” with Judaism for the people’s attention. Elijah massacres hundreds of people, then runs off into the wilderness with the queen, Jezebel in hot pursuit, seeking her revenge of the man who killed the prophets of the feminine aspect of the Divine to which she had given her allegiance. While this story will be told on Sunday to illustrate God’s tender mercy, I see it as just another example of humanity’s intolerance of those we perceive as different and our need to be right so that someone else can be wrong. Again, we suck! Not only that but we are HYPOCRITES!
HYPOCRITE! (and more ranting)
Every single time we stand up as better than, more saved, more right, regarding our religious beliefs…we are liars and hypocrites! Why? Because at the core of every religion (at least as best as I can see) is an invitation to LOVE GOD (by whatever name we call it) and to LOVE EACH OTHER. PERIOD! If we speak or act otherwise, then we don’t really believe the prophets (Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Moses, Nanak, Yogananda, Vivekananda, Swami Rama, St. Francis, Mother Theresa etc. etc. etc.) that God sends over and over and over to remind us of how we were made to live and be in the world. LOVE….that is all we are asked to be and to do and most of the time we aren’t very good at doing this and Sunday’s massacre is just another in a sad and long line of examples where we fail to do the ONE THING that God made us to do. SIGH!
So We Pray
I know that the insignificant blogging and ranting of Lauri Ann Lumby is not going to change the fact that over and over and over, human beings choose fear over love. I am saddened by the events of this past Sunday and I know that as a species, we CAN do better than this. I pray for the lives of those lost, for their families and for the Sikh adherents in the face of this tragedy. My prayer for the rest of us is that we see the fear and intolerance that drives such acts of violence and that we do what we can in our own lives and within our circles of influence to CHOOSE LOVE instead of the fears that wish to divide.
Authentic Freedom Ministries