Yesterday was a strange day. I was visiting my boyfriend’s family in Minnesota for the weekend. Sunday morning, we went to church together, and I had shut off my phone for the service. When I turned it back on, I had dozens of phone calls and text messages waiting for me. Apparently there was a shooting at a Sikh Temple in a nearby suburb from where I grew up.
At this point, you have probably heard about this tragic, terrible incident. I can’t stop shaking my head in disbelief when I see the stories about it. Not to sound all doom and gloom, but what the heck is this world coming to?
I kept up to date on the story all afternoon. Checking my Facebook and phone for updates and comments from friends and family, who still live in that area of Wisconsin. Around 3 in the afternoon, we left Minnesota, and after a long weekend, I immediately fell asleep on the way home. When I woke up 2 hours later, my phone again showed missed calls and texts, but this time, a new fear hit me. A lot of them asked if I heard what happened recently, and if my parents were okay.
I immediately called my dad, who told me that he, my mother and sister were evacuated from our home. Police believe a house just a few doors away was related to the shooter. (At the time they thought maybe it was laced with explosives, similar to the home in Colorado after the shooting in the movie theater.)
My mother was very emotional – this was a neighborhood she had grown up in, and raised her two children. In fact, it was the very same house. She couldn’t imagine how someone so evil could live in that area, let alone any where in this world.
My family is okay- they were able to go back home after about 8 hours. But the entire community of Cudahy (my home town), Oak Creek, and all of Wisconsin continue to mourn. Several vigils are being held, and I very much wish I could attend those, to show my support for my childhood community.
Here in Iowa, I continued the tragic story tonight. I interviewed a member of a Sikh Temple in West Des Moines. When we arrived, we were asked to take off our shoes, and cover our heads with a scarf. Then, we were allowed to enter the temple.
If you saw my story tonight, the temple is very beautiful inside. I was able to get a glimpse at this very peaceful, inviting, and nonjudgmental religion. Sikh’s believe in one God. Practitioners avoid “empty rituals”, instead they believe in carrying out good actions. It’s a religion that believes truly and fully in equality, and never turns anyone away. It baffles me that a hate crime of this magnitude could happen anywhere, but especially in a place like that. And despite this tragedy, they say they will never change their ways, and will always welcome everyone.
My thoughts and prayers continue to go out to all those involved and affected by this terrible event.
Also in case you were interested: The temple in West Des Moines is planning on a memorial for the victims of the shooting this coming weekend. Everyone is welcome.