There are quantitative and qualitative differences between intelligence, knowledge, understanding, wisdom and hate. The former attributes infer something that if they truly exist, precludes the possibility of hate.
It takes a certain type of willful lack of understanding, an intentional ignorance of facts, truth and reality for hate to flourish. The fact this indeed happens and all too often is evident in the world around us. The simplistic solution is education, but like throwing seeds on a stony ground, ideas cannot take root without the fertile soil of an open mind.
Hate has many tools in its arsenal against truth, and one is fear. This fear covers the heart, blocking out any errant ray of understanding that may have slipped through, robbing the seed of the light that is truth that would otherwise allow wisdom to grow. But this isn’t the end of the tricks Hate has to use.
When the light of truth is so otherwise blinding, Hate acts as a filter, as a lens which distorts the light, providing instead of illumination a muddy glow in which whatever seedling of wisdom may have managed to take root morphs into something so twisted and stunted, the flowers of understanding that would have burst forth instead become poisonous, spewing noxious seeds which are perfectly suited to the toxic, hard and unyielding soil that is the condition left in the human soul by the existence of Hate.
To say that those who hate so blindly and completely are lacking in anything resembling intelligence, knowledge or wisdom is to understate the obvious.
We will never know what Wade Michael Page was really thinking when he pulled the trigger on those innocent and defenseless people. In time, we may find the equivalent of a Manifesto expounding on his twisted view of the world, but even that will leave many questions unanswered, beginning and ending with “Why?”
The short, superficial answers have already been released, or at least inferred. The shooter was part of a Hate Group and held a White Supremacist ideology. Does that sufficiently answer the “why” for anyone other than those who share his views? Did he intentionally pick his target based on who they are or was it simply because of who they weren’t? I have to believe the latter is true, as the former makes even less sense. Of all the groups of non-White, non-Christians to attack, why pick one whose credo is peace, service and defense of the innocent?
I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on Sikhism, but there are a few basic facts we all should know.
Sikhism does not have a hierarchy, and in fact eschews the very concept. The caste system was alive and strong in India when Sikhism began, and this system was one of the very first things rejected by followers. There were to be no forced or even coerced conversions. In fact, the father of Sikhism, Guru Nanak told his followers to be true Hindus and true Muslims. He preached against empty religious rituals, the caste system and depending on books to learn the true religion.
In modern Sikhism, there are two defining characteristics, at least to the untrained observer. The men have full beards that have never been shorn and both men and women believe that they are never to cut their hair. Men wear turbans that cover their uncut hair both as part of their religious beliefs and as a way to keep it neat and clean. The second immediate thing that is noticed is that men carry a small knife, to symbolize the path they walk is difficult and they must cut through the mist of the world as they seek the clear path they believe they are to follow. These symbolic knives do have another purpose, and that is the defense of the innocent.
Sikhs are often considered less peaceful than other religions of the region because there is a strong tradition of martial service. One of their tenets is to fight against, even to the point of giving their own lives, forced conversion to any religion, irrespective of the religion of the worshipper. Sikhs have given their lives in defense of Hindus, Jainists, and there is a very famous story of Sikh warriors defending a Christian convent, holding off an attacking horde of Muslims until reinforcements could arrive. Sadly, nearly all the defenders died in defense of a people who were actively trying to convert their children to a different religion. But, those within the convent walls would have been put to death by the attackers, and this was reason enough to defend them.
This tradition of defense of the innocent grew out of the often violent confrontations that occurred when Muslims tried to convert, at the point of a sword, Hindus and other peoples of the region. Because of this, Muslims of a more fanatical bend have singled out Sikhs as one of their prime enemies. They may even hate Sikhs more than they do us in the West. They have certainly have been hating them, attacking them, burning and bombing their temples for centuries, activities that continue through this day and age.
During both WWI and WWII, Sikhs formed elite fighting groups on the side of the Allies. Fascists, Nazis and Communists are not followers of a religion, but they do require a choice of conversion or death if they provide an opportunity to make a choice, something Sikhs believe is against the Will of God. Sikhs believe living their lives in service to others is in fact living their lives in service to God. And yes it is God, singular, a monotheistic deity, the Great Architect of all mankind in which they believe.
When I first heard of the shooting at the Wisconsin Temple, I wanted to shout from the rooftop and gather every person I could to descend on that Temple and others in the area to stand shoulder to shoulder with these, one of our truest and most staunch allies in the defense of freedom. The primary reason I refrained was doing so would be placing a burden on the community when they are in mourning. Sikhs believe that anyone who walks into their temple, day or night, regardless of their faith, religion or politics is to be cared for and fed.
This explains how a man who is obviously not a member of their community could so easily walk into their temple. The fact he was approached by one of the elders, whom they call Priests, and challenged exactly fits with the tenets of their beliefs. Everyone is welcome, but a history of being attacked for giving refuge to outsiders and defending even those of other faiths, are lessons well learned by this community. Yet, their doors and their hearts remain open to all.
Given these understandings, the answers to the question “Why?” becomes even more important. Did this shooter know the history and traditions, beliefs and customs of Sikhs when he picked them for a target? If he did, the message he sent is all the more chilling as it would read that even those who are peaceful are not safe. This line of reasoning also assumes someone, or a group of someones if it proves he did act in concert with, at the instruction of or under the instigation of others, is capable of a level of intelligence, knowledge and understanding, which I sincerely doubt is the case.
The more likely answer involves a complete and total lack of these virtues of the mind. He picked them because they were obviously not White. It has already been reported that he and his brethren in hate probably assumed they were Muslim, an all too common misunderstanding based on their skin color and similar style of dress, further proof of their lack of intelligence. It is kind of them to show us their stupidity and lack of understanding of both these religions. How disappointing it must be for them to see the community they attacked supported and embraced by the rest of us, of all creeds, religions, ethnicities and colors.
The main reason I say Hate is stupid is those who adhere to it as a driving and defining force never seem to learn. In addition, I think you have to be a special kind of stupid to follow these doctrines of hate despite the overwhelming evidence against these credos available first and foremost in the hearts of most mankind.
There is a song in the musical “South Pacific”, which was pretty groundbreaking stuff for the time. Part of it goes “…you’ve got to be taught before it’s too late, before you are six or seven or eight, to hate all the people your relatives hate…”. That was more than fifty years ago, but remains as true today as it did then.
We are a Nation at war, not against Muslims, foreigners or anything so specific and easily identifiable. We are at War with Terror, which is the twisted offspring of Hate. We are a tolerant and inclusive people, and that means we will fight against Terror and Hate regardless of the motivations, ideologies or skin color of the perpetrators. By committing these types of acts, the mongrels of hate, whether they be White Supremacists, Nazis, Al-Qaeda, or subscribers to any of the many ideologies of hate are the enemies of all mankind. No one is safe from becoming a target, because no matter who you are, there is a group out there that hates you.