The World is Complicated

So tonight I was privileged to attend a special event tonight, honoring a local man who has dedicated his life to living his Sikh faith in all aspects of his life.  KP Singh is a local celebrity, artist, architect and civic voice.  The core of who he is and what he was being honored for was his dedication true multi-faith action and respect.  KP Singh received the interfaith ambassador award from the Center for Interfaith Cooperation and it was well deserved.  For almost 50 years he has been working to bring people of many faith communities together to make Indianapolis a more welcoming inclusive community.  Almost 300 people shared prayers, speeches, a meal and Bollywood dancing to honor not only this one man but the ideals that bring people of all faiths together.  

Then I came home and read this:

 Craziness continues. Really sad.
A Muslim woman wearing hijab last Sunday is pursued by a honking truck after dropping her children off at Sunday School. At the traffic light the truck pulls up to her and keeps honking trying to get her attention. When she looks over he exposes her genitals to her. She looks away but he pursues her honking until he realizes she is trying to jot down his license plate.
Muslim woman wearing hijab stops at a traffic light. A police officer pulls up next to her. Indicates that she should roll down her window. She does assuming she was doing something wrong. He spits at her and yells obscenities and then drives away.
Two different women but both incidents in Plainfield, Indiana. Both women afraid to report to law enforcement for fear of being under scrutiny.

This is disgusting and such the opposite of what we were all celebrating tonight.  This is the attitude and dare I say evil we are fighting against when we come together to share our faiths with others.  We live in culture today that appears to be rewarding brash and crass language that will demonize an entire faith for the actions of a few who distort the faith for their own desires.  The fact that a police officer felt it was fine to accost a citizen using the power of his badge.  I hope they find the officer and I hope they fire him for this action against all being a police officer stands for.  

So to inoculate the world against the ignorant bigotry that is vomited at political rallies and draws this sickening behavior out of people I would like to challenge anyone reading this to do a few things.  Some of which we were charged by KP Singh to do at the dinner.
1.  Spend time with someone of a different faith.  Not to talk about your faith and theirs but to just be together.  Everyone knows someone  who worships differently.  Go and just hang out and you will be surprised what you will learn.
2.  Learn about others.  Too often what we know about people of other faiths are cartoonish or stereotypical.  Actually learn.  Talk to people, read, or simply go experience any of the many multi-faith programs that occur virtually everywhere.  You might have to search for them but google is your friend. 
3. Challenge the loud, bigoted voices that find a forum all the time.  Challenge those who propagate misinformation about people's difference, based on faith, race, culture or national origin, or simply how someone lives their life by choice or by birth.  Diversity should not be easily shouted down in the public square.  We own that space.  Let it not be polluted by hate as we wouldn't allow a local river to be a dumping ground.  

We all have a stake in this.  Let's step up and make our country a place where we never have to read about a police officer spitting at someone because of who they are.  It is not a place we can be proud of.  


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