- Posted August 13, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Sikh community speaks out
"Why blend in when you were born to stand out"
Streets, intersections, stores, classroom, work, airport etc., Everywhere I have been greeted by curious eyes, sometimes hostile ones too. These days, however, there is a new sense of pride in the way I greet them. Now, I am even more proud to tell them that Sikhs will always be Sikhs.
Some people are curious how Sikhs are going to change their lifestyle after the shooting rampage at the Gurdwara sahib in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Some asked me, how I am going to change personally. What will I do different? Will I be more cautious? Will people stop paying obeisance at Gurdwaras now?
My answer is: I am a Sikh by birth as well as choice! Sikhs are a martial race. We endured genocides, massacres and persecution countless times before. Our forefathers were dismembered alive, burnt alive, boiled alive and blown away by cannons. They did not stop being Sikhs just because they were being hunted. They did not cut their hair and cease wearing turbans because their way of life was threatened. They stayed firm on their faith, and fought for justice and stood up against oppression.
Then why should I stop going to Gurdwara? Sikhs serve in armed forces with their turbans. The risk of injury is higher, but it is faith that matters more than life. Will I be scared for my life and stay home? No. What is the guarantee that I will live longer that way? I would rather meet my fate in a proud manner than a timid one. And that is how many people around me feel too. We will not lose faith in our tenets and beliefs. The hatred behind this tragic incident is not strong enough to shake the foundations of our love towards our faith and the Supreme Creator, the Akal Purakh, the Timeless Being.
We might still be singled out at airports for a while. Perhaps the bullying in schools and abusing on streets might continue. Do not stand down. Take a new hope and a new inspiration to continue on the path of Sikhism from this tragedy. The support and solidarity from communities across the nation has reassured us. Those who stopped seeing any virtue in continue being Sikhs, they should know that the future generations will remember us for who we were, not who we were not. The love for our faith will conquer any hatred directed at us. Our resolution will be remembered as an evidence of our strong will to not give up and forget the precious blood shed by our ancestors. Those saying “Sikhs are not Muslims” might be contributing to more hatred towards our Muslim brothers and sisters. Should we let them become targets just because perhaps we were the mistaken and unintentional targets this time? No. Now is the time to set aside our differences, inside the Sikh community as well, and get united.
I am a Sikh. I am a recent immigrant. I am a student. And I prefer that people ask me questions about my faith and appearance rather than make assumptions. To those who want to learn more about Sikhs, please ask a Sikh around you. All Sikhs are requested to find pride in their heritage and inform others. We must be ambassadors of our faith. And the best way to continue doing that is being who we are: Sikhs.
As the phrase goes: "Why blend in when you were born to stand out?"