series of shots heard round theworld is what police are calling agruesome act of domestic terror-ism last Sunday morning. A peaceful Sikhcommunity in Wisconsin began mealpreparations at their gurdwara, term forthe Sikh temple, and here before middayservices when 40-year-old gunman WadeMichael Page opened fire.
Six were killed and several others injured. Ameri-cans worldwide, regardless of religious affiliation,have responded in disbelief to the bloody rampageaimed at the unassuming group known for its peace-ful ways and social reform.“As citizens we cherish the high ideals that ourcountry frequently espouses, yet we know that thosesentiments are violated daily in ways that make uswonder if they really mean anything at all,” posedWard McAfee of the Claremont Interfaith WorkingGroup for Middle East Peace.In the aftermath of the weekend’s devastatingevents, Sikh communities across the country are at-tempting to pick up the pieces shattered by the puz-zling shooting.“We are grieving,” said Santokh Singh Sahi of alocal Sikh community of the Inland Empire. “But insharing and uniting in our grief, we are given thefaith to stand and enjoy the freedom we enjoy in thiscountry.”News of Sunday’s unprovoked shooting shook Mr.Sahi and his fellow Sikhs to the core. Many Sikhs,like Mr. Sahi himself, moved to the United States inan attempt to flee religious persecution. Though hemaintains that the United States has provided a re-freshed sense of freedom and equality for Sikhs, herecognizes that religious intolerance continues to per-sist in their newfound land of liberty.“Though this country’s Constitution gives rights toall people, we continue with the same struggle,” hesaid, noting, “Liberty and equality do not come freely.You have to fight for it.”Beyond the pain he feels for his fellow Sikhs, Mr.Sahi was particularly affected by the death of officer,Lieutenant Brian Murphy, who took at least 8 bulletsin an attempt to save lives.“I become emotional,” said Mr. Sahi, the feelingpalpable in his quivering voice.Most troubling to Mr. Sahi is why the gunmanwould target a religious group with longstandingroots in the kind treatment of others. Sikhism, amonotheistic religion founded more than 500 yearsago, is centered on principles of peace and justice forall human beings regardless of religious practice.Though the majority live in India, an estimated400,000 Sikhs live in the United States, according toreports. All Sikhs are encouraged to practice acts of social reform and follow the teachings of the 11gurus, or enlightened leaders.In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks,he notes, “Unfortunately, we all tend to be identifiedat a distance. They see our beards and turbans andmake assumptions.”Misconceptions are fostered against all religions,spurred by those who take good principles and usethem for wrongful purposes, Mr. Sahi recognized.“We are not the problem. It’s the fanatics, the fun-damentalists who try to sell their viewpoint by force,that are the problem,” he said. “Every religion isgood. The badness is in the person who is preachingwrong things.”Learning to navigate the misconceptions, espe-cially with many preaching the wrong message, is achallenge that one local interfaith working groupcontinues to tackle. The first obstacle is acknowledg-ment, according to the Reverend Sharon Rhodes-Wickett, lead pastor at Claremont United MethodistChurch.“We must recognize that our nation has grownmore intolerant in recent history,” Rev. Rhodes-Wickett said. “To that end, we are working on waysto invite people to see one another with open mindsand hearts.”The annual Interfaith Walk for Peace—to be heldthis year on Sunday, September 9—is one way thelocal community can participate in fostering reli-gious tolerance, according to Rev. Rhodes Wickettand Mr. McAfee. During the peace walk, hundredsfrom all religious arenas and beyond gather to marchfrom one religious institution to another to step out-side doctrinal borders.“People wanting to witness that ‘liberty and justicefor all’ really is the ‘civic religion’ of our land shouldshow up,” Mr. McAfee said. “Participation has a wayof making our ideals real instead of just being emptyrhetoric.”Despite the hardships, steps taken toward toler-ance help remind us of our common threads, accord-ing to Najeeba Syeed-Miller, assistant professor of interreligious education at the Claremont School of Theology.“We can share this connection to help work to-gether to help each other,” Ms. Syeed-Miller said.“We can also begin to understand the beautiful tap-estry that comprises our nation and work even harderto get to know one another.”The task is as simple as visiting a gurdwara to learnmore about the Sikh tradition. Don’t rely on second-hand information, Ms. Syeed-Miller encouraged.“In the end, we are neighbors in our local commu-nities,” she said. “Exploring how we can have posi-tive interfaith encounters is a key to building astronger bond between us all as Americans.”
scape. The canyon almost looks like a fire wasnever there…except for the former homes.I realize most of us have seen burned-out struc-tures. But the sheer enormity of seeing so many, insuch a pristine setting, is jarring. Then a home un-touched by fire pops up, still lived in by one of thecurrent residents. Now that’s commitment.And then there’s the tree house. Actually, it’s alittle house in a tree. I expected an old gent with along gray beard to stick his head out and tell me toget lost. No one lives there now, but what’s weird isit wasn’t touched by fire…even though the homesbelow were destroyed.My advice would be not to take your family upthe canyon for a picnic. The last thing anyone wantsis lookie-loos. Our story of the canyon are in the Al-manac. Maybe it’s just better to remember PalmerCanyon as the vibrant neighborhood it once was.I am the last person to want to continue our con-versation on Michael Valentine’s comments lastweek. But being a publisher and human being, Iwill second-guess myself after reading the re-sponses from readers. There were many goodpoints.The COURIER readers comments are managedby Kathryn Dunn and she makes every effort tomake sure many voices are heard. We have criteriafor people to follow, but no blanket policies on whatis refused. Much of it is common sense, somethingour managing editor has a lot of. We take each letteron a case-by-case basis.In retrospect, I don’t think we should have pub-lished Mr. Valentine’s comments. There was reallynothing to advance a conversation on anything cur-rent. It started with a quote from my father Martinthat was over 25 years old. When I first read thecomments, that’s what hit me. Old, old news. I can-not remember a reader comment so passionatelynegative about old stuff that went on in the city. Itwas almost a history lesson of Claremont events.This was an eye-opener for me.Obviously, it was also hard to take the criticismof my father. Unfair or not, I had to ask myself…why? It clearly brought out old wounds of losinghim, so much so, I didn’t even show the edition tomy mother Janis. It would only upset her.My comment to Mr. Valentine’s letter has beenrightfully construed as projecting a “love it or leaveit” attitude. That was not my intention. While Imight have been a bit oversensitive, I’ve learned thelove and defense of our parents extends even afterthey have left us.
Claremont COURIER/Wednesday, August 8, 2012
MY SIDE/ continued from the previous page
Letter to the editor
Locals grieve temple shooting, encourage tolerance
No taste is the best tastefor Claremont water
Claremont residents may be experiencing amusty taste and odor in their tap water, but itis an aesthetic problem caused by an algaebloom and not a health hazard, according towater quality experts.Officials at the Metropolitan Water Districtof Southern California said the taste-and-odorevent is affecting tap water in eastern Los An-geles County communities.The earthy taste and smell stem from an es-pecially large and persistent algae bloom inthe east branch of the State Water Project, ac-cording to Jim Green, Metropolitan’s managerof water system operations.“We are working with the State Departmentof Water Resources (DWR)—which owns andoperates the state system—to address the situ-ation,” Mr. Green said. “Consumers, however,can be assured that the taste-and-odor issuesthey may be experiencing in their tap water donot pose any health risks.”The cause has been identified as both 2-methylisoborneal, or MIB, and geosmin.These nuisance compounds are produced fromthe growth of certain algae in freshwatersthroughout the world.“Unfortunately, people with sensitive tasteand smell can detect these compounds inwater levels as low as 5 parts-per-trillion,” Mr.Green said.Mr. Green suggested refrigerating drinkingwater to help improve its taste until the prob-lem diminishes. Though DWR water qualityexperts recently applied copper sulfate, an ap-proved method, to control the algae bloom,Mr. Green cautions the problem may persistfor another couple weeks. Officials stressedthat the treated water will be safe for con-sumers. Fish and wildlife also will not be im-pacted.