Wednesday evening (8/8)I attended a Vigil at the Sikh Temple of North Texas, and addressed the assembled. Here is what I said:
My name is Rabbi David Gruber. I wish to extend to you, the Sikh community, my deepest condolences.
How can one actually address such a terrible tragedy? Am I adequate to even try to do so? I don't know. So allow me to talk about how I dealt with a personal tragedy. Hopefully, my words will be edifying in the context of this more public tragedy.
14 years ago today, my wife and I had a child, who spent a third of his very short life in the hospital, and died less than nine months later. The most natural thing to do when one experiences such a tragedy is to ask why? Why did this happen? Why me? Here is the problem, though. There is no good answer to that question, and believe me, I have heard them all. And though you never really stop asking that question, you realize that if you are to continue on, you can't get stuck on that question. Since you cannot control events that happen to you, trying to answer that question will get you nowhere.
There is one thing, though, over which we have absolute control, and that is our choice of how to react to what happened to us. No one can take that away. So, I realized that though I could never answer the why question, there was a much more important question I could answer. That question was and is what now? Now, that I have experienced tragedy, what can I do? What call to action can I find in this tragedy? What can I do to give this tragedy meaning? To that question there can be an answer. In fact, each one of us is called upon to find his or her answer to that very question.
My answer was to love and to teach. I resolved that I would do the little bit I could to make sure there was a little more love in the world, and a little more knowledge. This drives choices I have made in my life. This is how I have found and continue to find meaning in my personal tragedy.
So let us all resolve tonight, each one of us to ask ourselves what call to action we will accept. If each one of us will heed that call, imagine, just imagine, what a wonderful society we can create!