Two Years Ago Today…
Two years ago today, six people of faith were killed, and many others wounded, in a mass shooting at the Sikh house of worship in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
It was the largest act of violence on a faith community in the US since the bombing of a Birmingham church that took four little girls 51 years ago.
The shooting was a national tragedy, but what happened afterward is the most powerful story of healing and rebuilding I’ve ever witnessed. My husband and I had the chance to capture the community’s response with our camera. This short film is their story.
This weekend, I traveled to Oak Creek to visit Baba Punjab Singh, a grandfather who has been in the hospital for two years since the shooting. He still cannot move or speak, but his eyes sparkle.
“Do you feel the love and prayers from people around the country?” I ask him.
He blinks twice for “yes.”
“Are you in Chardi Kala?” This is the Sikh spirit of everlasting optimism and high spirits, even in hardship.
His eyes crease: he’s smiling.
Then he blinks twice — “yes.”
Baba Punjab Singh shows me how to be brave — and how to live with relentless optimism no matter the hardships we face.
On this two-year anniversary, we won’t find Oak Creek in the national news. Our nation moved on too soon. But the spirit of optimism reminds me to look deeper.
In the last two years, people of faith have rolled up their sleeves to take on the root causes of that bloodshed — hate, fear, racism and guns. Interfaith leaders have expanded dialogue programs. Young Sikhs created new service projects. Advocates forged new relationships with government and media. Communities organized against hate crimes and gun violence.
The result? We have fought for policy change — and won. We have created new partnerships for social impact. And the friendships we have made along the way have changed lives.
It’s why you and I and thousands of other people of faith and moral calling are part of Groundswell — to share stories and campaigns for justice that inspire and heal each other, our families,