Because Americans move through time with such speed, we seem rarely to reflect on the wreckage in the wake of history's jack-booted thugs (as an NRA official once described ATF agents).
Oh, for major national and interntional events we'll sometimes take note of an anniversary -- the ending of World War I and II and 9/11, for instance. But for many reasons, some of them quite understandable, we often fail to think about people who have suffered in slightly less prominent events, even though when they happened they may have been front-page headlines.
For instance, let's return to last Aug. 5, when a gunman opened fire at a Sikh Temple in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek. Remember?
Whether you do or not, Raghuvinder and Jaspreet Singh surely do. They have stayed by the bed of their almost-murdered father, Punjab Singh, (pictured here) almost constantly since that day -- stayed by him and sought to draw him back toward life.
It has been a terrifically difficult journey, as described in the Associated Press story to which I've linked you. As the story notes, the two Singh children have "repeated a single word — a word their dad probably spoke more than any other in his lifetime: 'Waheguru.' The Punjabi word is a term Sikhs use to refer to God."
So even though we no longer talk much about the Oak Creek shooting, the reality is that America's growing Sikh community bears an eternal wound because of it. And a famous Sikh priest still lies in a bed barely able to speak or move. Now think of victims of other religiously motivated violence, from antisemitic attacks to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. As someone once noted in another context, the past sometimes isn't even past.
(USA Today says the photo here today is a family picture through the Associated Press.)
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WHEN 'SORRY' HARDLY CUTS IT
Perhaps it's also fair to call sexual abuse of youth by Catholic priests violence. In any case, The Los Angeles Times this week published a revealing look at the ways in which Archbishop Roger Mahony and other leaders there failed the children being abused. It also published this letter of explanation and apology from Mahony. This is the kind of truth that must be opened before both the church and the public before anything like forgiveness and reconciliation -- not to mention a necessary change in approach -- can occur.
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P.S.: My latest National Catholic Reporter now is online. To read it, click here.