Scribbled in black ink, the graffiti read: “Welcome 9-11 Contributors.”
The world around us is increasingly becoming a divided and polarized place. But often there are stories emerging amidst growing racism and xenophobia that assure that love and brotherhood are equally present in the society.
And this is what happened in Williams Lake, British Columbia, Canada.
Last week, members of the city’s Sikh community woke up to find a disturbing graffiti scribbled outside their local gurdwara, Western Sikh Sabha. Scribbled in black ink, the graffiti read: “Welcome 9-11 Contributors.” It was visible to all worshipers driving to the temple.
Members of the close-knit Sikh community who have been living in the area for decades and visit the temple almost on a daily basis were both shocked and upset to find hatred so near to their home. A video footage obtained from the gurudwara confirmed that a man dressed in dark hurriedly wrote the graffiti in the wee hours of morning.
While they could have reported the matter to the law authorities and get on with life, what members of the Williams Lake Sikh community did was remarkable. They offered the suspect to come and have a cup of tea with them so that they can explain their faith better to him.
The local newspaper Haida Gwaii Observer quoted Balhar Dosanjh, a gurdwara member and a long time Williams Lake resident, as saying: “We are peaceful people. We follow a peaceful religion.”
Dosanjh told the news outlet: “We are peaceful people. If somebody want to come in and know who we are, what we do and how we preach, they can come in or phone us and have a cup of tea with us. If they spend time with us they will learn … that is my message to everybody. Come in, phone us, we will sit together.”
The community has in the past seen the repercussions of hatred. Back in 2006, the temple suffered a huge arson causing a damage of more than $1 million. The community is trying to assure that such extreme hatred is rooted out in the bud and there is no repeat of any hate-based violence.
By extending the olive branch, the members of Sikh faith are setting an example that misconceptions can be booted out without affecting social relationships between the locals who want to peacefully co-exist and respect each-others’ faith and values.
Gurudwara in California vandalized (August 1, 2013)