Monday, August 6, 2012

Sikhs and Evil Stupid People with Guns

As I walked my dog yesterday morning, I passed a neighbor.

This neighbor lives up the street, part of a family whose daughter was the Safety Patrol when my 14 year old was getting on the bus for the very first time as a kindergartener.  She's in her last year of college this year.  Man, how time flies.   Back then, I hung out a bunch with the dad from the family, a genial, hardworking guy with a warm smile and an easy laugh.

This neighboring family is Sikh.

We smiled, I said hello, and we walked on.  I found myself...yesterday morning...reflecting on how interesting that faith is.

Guru Nanak, who founded the religion, has always struck me as kind of a brother from another mother, Jesus-wise.  The faith is monotheistic, and though it springs from an utterly different culture, it has powerful spiritual resonances with the core message and ethos of Jesus of Nazareth.  Guru Nanak taught a radically egalitarian approach to social standing, which put it into strong tension with the caste system in the Hindu culture from which it sprang.   I'd been doing readings in both Christian and world mysticism for the class I taught this last week, and Sikh teachings are both potently, esoterically mystic and eminently practical and earthy.

As I read the news this morning, I thought again about my neighbor, and my heart and my prayers went out to the Sikh community.  We don't know much about this particular "shooter" yet, but from what has been gleaned, it appears the reprehensible mass murders in a Wisconsin gurudwara may have been the work of someone who mistook Sikhs for Muslims.

If they'd been Muslim, it would have been no less horrific.  There is, however, the probability that this wasn't just a massacre, but a massacre undertaken by someone too hatefully ignorant to realize he wasn't even murdering the people he thought he was murdering.  Not that he wouldn't have hated them anyway.

From what is trickling out this morning, he was apparently thrown out of the military for misconduct, which isn't surprising.

What also isn't surprising is that he had easy access to firearms.   If the criminally insane can get guns, why shouldn't evil stupid people who are an embarrassment to the uniform?

Lord, have mercy.