The tragic murder of members of the Wisconsin Sikh temple has left me with a sense of deep sadness. That the adherents of such a peaceful religion should be subjected to such a violent attack based on the false premise that they are members of the Islamic faith, is tragic in itself. Equally tragic is the fact that anyone would see fit to attack another person based solely on their religion.
It is a sad part of our fallen condition that we humans are capable of harboring hatred for another human to begin with, but that such hatred could be translated into a violent attack is unconscionable.
Sikhs have sought to end all caste distinctions and vehemently oppose stratification of society by any means, and have diligently worked to create an egalitarian society dedicated to justice and equality. The turban is seen as a gift of love from the founders of the Sikh religion and is symbolic of sovereignty that is of Divine concession. In Sikhism, the practice of allowing one's hair to grow naturally is seen as a symbol of respect for the perfection of God's creation. Sikhs believe in the equality of humankind, the concept of universal brotherhood of man and One Supreme God.
That the followers of such a religion should be subjected to such violent attack is not only an attack on them, but an attack on all human decency and goodness. It is an attack on all of us.
As an Orthodox Christian monk adhering to an ancient tradition of covering my head out of respect for God and refraining from cutting my beard and hair, I feel a certain affinity to Sikh men. For years I have nodded my head and smiled, when coming in contact with Sikh men, and have always received a smile in return. It is with a heavy heart that I ask all of my readers to make a special effort to reach out in all love and charity to the Sikh community in your area. Let them know that you grieve with them, and that you stand with them in their right to dress according to their religious faith and conscience. Let them know that not everyone wishes them ill, but that we stand with them in their hour of grief, pain and sorrow.
The Elder Paisius of Mount Athos said, "You will consider everyone your brother or your sister, for we are all children of Eve."
With love in Christ,