Sat Sri Akal – God is Ultimate Truth!
That is the greeting Sikhs exchange with each other, like “Shalom Aleichem” among Jews or “Asalaam aleikum” among Muslims.
They were the first words of my brief speaking last night (August 7, 2012) to the prayer vigil at Love Park in the heart of Philadelphia – prayer in memory of the Sikhs murdered in Milwaukee. About 500 people shouted the greeting back to me.
[The photo above, taken by Frank Toia at the vigil where I spoke, expands if you click on it.]
In the community assembled for prayer and sorrow, there were also Muslims and Christians. I was invited to speak more or less on behalf of the Jewish community.
What I said: That in a time of national crisis, as Jews know all too well, fear of the earthquake we are living through becomes rage, rage becomes hatred, hatred becomes violence.
The white supremacist cult to which the murderer belonged tries desperately to hang on to the certainties of the past when white Protestant males ruled America. In trying to restore that world, they must use even more violence to reign supreme than was necessary when that regime was the norm.
When millions are dispossessed of their jobs and homes; when thousands of lives and billions of dollars are thrown away into immoral, illegitimate, and unwinnable wars; when more and more of the Earth itself becomes unlivable before our eyes — the crisis of all these disasters breeds fear, rage, hate, violence.
When our powerful leaders, our models and mentors, choose to preserve their power by killing tens and hundreds of thousands abroad and by imprisoning millions at home, more than half of them Black or Brown, where hundreds a year are tormented till they kill themselves — why should a dispossessed white man deprived of his power not choose to kill a mere half-dozen brown-skinned worshippers of a little-known religion?
So, I said, we must gather in sorrow, but not only in sorrow. In determination as well. Determination not only to end the violence against Sikhs, Hispanics, Muslims, African-Americans, gays – but to heal and reshape our society so that millions do not despair.
For as the Torah says, Every human being is created in the Image of God –- not identical images, as Caesars in every generation would try to make us, like the identical Imperial image stamped on every coin — but each a unique refraction of the Infinite One. And as the Quran says, God created humanity through different tribes and cultures not to turn us toward hating each other, but to teach us to understand each other. To grok each other.
To love each other.
For as the Sikhs say, the sacred Unity is the ultimate, sacred Truth.
Shalom, shantih, salaam, solh , Namaste — Arthur