Columbus’ Sukhvinder Mehta poured out his gratitude to the people encircling him in front of City Hall on Tuesday evening.
“We are just so grateful for the solidarity and support shown, even by the entire country for the Sikh community,” said Mehta, a follower of Sikhism along with his wife, Navjot. “We are overwhelmed.”
He spoke at a hastily organized vigil to grieve for the six victims of Sunday’s shootings at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee. Members of the Interfaith Forum of Columbus and others — Christians, Unitarians, Buddhists and Baha’i members totaling 26 people — gathered at Second and Washington streets to show unity and respect for all faiths.
The Mehtas spoke briefly about their faith, which boasts an estimated 280,000 members nationwide, according to the World Religion Database at Boston University. Others sang songs, read poems or just talked about their feelings of sadness and anger over violence today and religious intolerance.
The Rev. Wayne Hanrattie, a retired Presbyterian minister, said he was stunned and saddened to realize that a single person’s index finger “could so easily and so quickly snuff out lives.”
Jerry Karr of Columbus talked about Sikhs daily inviting thousands of people of all faiths to come to their free meals at the Parliament of World Religions gathering in 2004 in Barcelona, Spain. Karr and a friend were struck by Sikhs’ warmth and goodwill, meant to be an integral element of their faith.
“They actually wanted all 10,000 (attendees) to come and eat,” Karr said.
David Carlson, a Franklin College philosophy and religion professor who helped organize the event, shared the text of an email a friend passed along Tuesday.
“I was going to post something online today about the difference between Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims,” the email read. “But then I realized you don’t need to know anything about somebody’s religion to know that you shouldn’t shoot them.”
In the aftermath of such a tragedy, some people wonder about Sikhs’ reaction. Mehta said that must be built on love and goodness. Besides, as his wife pointed out, the Sikh deity “is without hate.”
“So, do we forgive?” Mehta asked. “Of course we do.”
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.