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A Message From the Sikh Youth

Discussion in 'Essays on Sikhism' started by S|kH, Apr 7, 2005.

  1. S|kH

    S|kH
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    This is a paper I just finished typing. It's in response to the parents who always blame the youth for becoming too "corrupt." Please post replies, as this is the first site I'll be sharing it with. I am in no way blaming solely the parents for the situation that Sikhs find themselves in today. I am just showing the contradictory message that is given to us. The article mainly deals with the issue of keeping kesh, and does not speak for the entire Sikh Youth's views.

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    A Message From the Sikh Youth
    By : Hareet Singh


    Over many years, and multiple sites, there is always constant discussion on “why the youth went wrong” or “how come the youth is so bad.” It is time to put an end to this, and sort out who to blame. The fault is not nearly as much on the youth’s shoulders as everyone makes it out to seem. Personally, I believe the fault lies more on the parental generation than on the shoulders of their children. ​
    Many parents question why “Sikh” children cut their hair during teenage years or earlier. They yell at the child for becoming too corrupt. Who is to blame for this other than the elder two generations? To this date, they have not created a concrete definition of what a Sikh is, or should look like. You tell us, a Sikh is one who keeps his kesh and does good deeds, but yet you call others that attend gurdwaras Sikhs also. Whenever you see someone in the news with a last name that you recognize, you are quick to tell us he’s a Sikh. To the innocent child, he is left wondering why he keeps his hair at all. With all the contradictory definitions of what a Sikh must be, I understand exactly why he questions it. The SGPC definition can be used and altered for both sides of the argument, so researching on the internet is useless. Some parents may argue, you keep your kesh for your whole life because then you have more potential to become a Khalsa – a term which actually has a concrete definition and physical appearance. But, yet at times when the child is ready to take Amrit, the parents and aunties are the first ones to tell the child to do otherwise, or refrain him from doing so. They claim he should wait till he is older to do it. Once again, the child is left confused, because now he has unshorn hair on his head for no reason as it does not even differentiate between him and the other local “Sikh”. Of course, this is not for hierarchy purposes, but just so the child realizes why he keeps his hair. When someone hears this answer, should they not begin to claim that, “its ok dad, I’ll grow my hair back later when I’m ready, just like you claim with taking amrit.” ​
    Other parents response to the youth’s question is usually along the lines of historical reason. Just how long can you keep telling a child that he must keep his hair because his ancestors committed extraordinary actions for him to be alive today? Most children are left wondering why the Gurus or other Sikhs even committed those acts if they still would be called and labeled as Sikhs regardless if they lost their kesh or not. Many other circumstances arise in a child’s head, such as statements that at least those historic figures died for a reason for keeping kesh, meanwhile I sit here and keep my hair for no reason at all, and suffer a slow death by the rules of society. We all know the state of Christianity today, and mind you, they still practice similar techniques upon children to try to keep them within the Christian fold. “Jesus died on the cross for you,” just how long will that last?​
    The contradictions from the parental generation continue even further when the Youth see “caste-based” gurdwaras, and when most Sikhs, even Khalsa draw conclusions about other individuals based on caste-relation. They claim they have nothing to do with castes, but I’ve over-heard numerous conversations amongst Khalsa men who are quick to say “Oh, he’s of the Jatt.” Do you honestly believe that statements or gurdwaras like these never dwell into the heads of the youth? Are we not left wondering, that how come these Sikhs can’t even follow the first Guru’s orders, but yet they yell at us for disobeying the last Guru’s? The caste-system should have been broken a long time ago. ​
    Even better is how the parents who claim to be Khalsa or Sikhs, but yet never meddle with the “politics” of the Gurdwara. What does a child do, when he see’s Monay individuals get on stage as the “President of the Sikh Gurdwara Committee” and give speeches on how the community should create a better future for the Sikh youth? The parents claim that politics is bad, so the youth is left with these so-called leaders that just scream out-right contradiction. Take a look at Christian history, most of the youth today don’t go to churches because they think the Church is run by corrupt leaders, and their parents refuse to get meddled with the politics of the Church. Parents, who continually say they are Khalsa, but yet refuse to take action, are leading us on the same path.​
    Last, but not least, it is the parental generation that has decided to completely remove the “community” aspect in Sikhs and Sikhism debate. It was the parents’ decision that one’s own Sikhi should be kept to himself, and he should not engage in philosophical discourse amongst other Sikhs or Khalsa. If one of your cousins decides to cut their hair, you can never question his actions or his reason for doing so. Parents always tell you, “it’s a personal thing” and you should remain out of it. One of the core elements is becoming a Khalsa and keeping the 5 K’s, so why is it banned to discuss actions which lead to apostasy? The parents will never say anything, they will even claim him to be a Sikh, and will never question whether their son ponders questions such as the importance of kesh. This leaves the child wondering what happens if he cuts his hair, his dad never even mentioned it to his first-cousin who committed the same action. The parents are responsible for the contradictory actions placed by the community, but yet they want to live in a utopian world where they think the community has no effect on their son’s or daughters decisions in life. ​
    The parents still want to yell at the youth in Punjab for following the trends in the western world. Western culture dominates the globe, who is not aware of this? Kids will die to dress American and possess the freedoms of Americans, whether this means late night outings or dating, it’s their choice. Girls are most susceptible to fashion trends, what do you expect Punjabi girls to do when their cousins have a free-pass at grooming daily in Western countries? How long do you wish to continually give us contradictory messages and expect us to remain outside the western community without giving in? First, learn the struggles of today, then make a unified message with parents and the community which states accurate answers to youth questions, and start to abolish ridiculous trends like the caste-system. Explicitly create the difference between Punjabi and Sikh culture. ​
    Besides, it was the parents that laughed during last year’s “Panj Kakkar” Bhangra Blowout skit. It was the Youth that decided to step up and make sure it will never happen again. It was a man in his 20’s that represented a local Sikh Society that spoke about Sikhism this year in front of 5000 people at Bhangra Blowout to correct the mistake of last year’s joke. I told many parents about the incident from last year, and the most common answer was, “oh, but that joke has a lot of truth in it,” and they laughed. But, remember one thing, it’s more important to speak Punjabi and know bhangra than to keep any of the 5 K’s, and of course, be proud of your ancestral heritage. Once a farmer, always a farmer. ​
    We do take blame, for certain activities such as increased drug usage amongst the youth, and various other misdeeds which are committed by us. But, the state of Sikhi, has a large part due to the way the parental generation handled situations, and that effects the way we handle the same situation or slightly different ones. You led us on this path, but now we are running on it on our own. You place us there, and then yell at us for wondering further down the road. It’s a shared blame, not just the youth for becoming too “corrupt.”​

    I couldn't get the indenting scheme to work properly, sorry about that, but the paragraphs are still divided up.
     
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  3. Neutral Singh

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    Hareet Ji, an excellent thought provoking article... with your premission, can i circulate your these articles on various websites and community bulletins ? :)

    Thanks
     
  4. S|kH

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    Thanks Aman ji.

    Yes, sure you can use it for any site...I'll be posting it on Sikhnet myself soon.
    Your welcome to share it with any site or individual :)
     
  5. Neutral Singh

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    Thanks buddy !! Let these articles flow from you frequently, it not only helps in emptying your mind but also gives others something to think about... best of luck..


    Regards
     
  6. S|kH

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    Hey Aman ji,

    Panthic weekly will be posting my article this week or next week with proper grammar editing and so forth. So, just wait till they put it up before you send out the article or post it. If you havent already, its ok if you did ;)

    I fixed a few phrases too, to make it clearer.
     
  7. Amerikaur

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    Hareet ji,

    Very disappointing. You made some very good points, but I can't remember what they were. I do remember the gratuitous insults to Chrstianity.

    To dismiss a central concept to a religion as a "technique used on children" to me is disgusting.

    To hear such an insult by another Sikh...while that Sikh is taking the roll of representing Sikh youth...to me, that is absolutely abhorrent.

    If you want to bash people that are different than you, you have that freedom. But I really wish you would do that on our own time, and not when you are claiming to reprsent Sikhs and the ideals of Sikhi. Gurbani does not preach that kind of hate.
     
  8. Amarpal

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    Dear Hareet Singh Ji,

    The problem is that in our society, no one gets training in parenthood.

    This is the area we are lacking. How to give the child the values of the family and inculcate Sikhi in them; most of the parents do not know. If the child has not followed the path of Sikhi, the responsibility rests with the parents.

    It is also a problem that many of the parents do not know what is Sikhi. They limit themself to the 'Akaar' part of it, and follow 'Nitname' in a ritualistic way. They are unable to rationalise all that is in Sikhi, which is essential in today's knowledge age. The rationalised Sikhi we have to give to our children so that they can internalise it.

    Our children are now educated. They have been trained to seek basis of all what they do. Only those parent's children will remain with Sikhi, who can give a convincing answers to their questions.

    Each educated Sikh should on her or his own should learn Sikhi and learn how to pass it on to the next generation so that they can pass on to the next. This process should continue.

    With love and respect for all

    Amarpal Singh
     
  9. S|kH

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    To say I was only insulting Christianity would be ridiculous. Read the statement again....the central concept of the religion that i "dismissed" as a technique used on children is stated in parallel to Sikhi too.

    It's also a central concept of Sikhi...its in gurbani, that it states, "By telling the children stories of their ancestors, they will remain in line" or something along those lines.

    NEVER did I say that method was BAD or insulted it, but I questioned just HOW LONG CAN THAT METHOD WORK?...or am I insulting by questioning a central concept? But to say I only insulted Christianity is beyond point, because i drew the same conclusion with Sikhism. I guess I insulted Sikhism too? My main point to draw parallels with Christian history is because I want people to READ Christian history and realize what methods worked and what methods remain in question, and what simply did not work at all.

    Christianity is alot older than us, and we're going on a similar path. We have a choice to break off, or take the same road, its up to you.

    If you choose to say I insulted both religions, then so be it.
    There will always be sensitive ones not ready to look at the history or problems.
    And also, read the disclaimer at the top, I clearly indicate that I don't speak for all the youth.

    If I'm not a good representative, and the majority see's me unfit...then let me know, I wont post my articles online. If the sangat sees fit, I will back off.
     
  10. Neutral Singh

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    Dear Hareet,

    Everywhere we will find people who will adhere to our way of thinking and also those who will not like it but this should never be a distraction for someone like you, refraining yourself from presenting your thoughts as you have done exellently in above article...

    Dear Amerikaur is simply sharing her concerns with you... You can try to clear her concerns over the issues she has raised and if there is a concensus, you can make some amends in the article as your writings may travel to people with different religious & cultural backgrounds... There are bound to more than one opinions & criticisms and you must be prepared for it. :)

    Finally, no need to get sentimental and making statements like "i will take a decision to back off." I, personally, take such criticisms in my stride as these situations also keep myself aware of the requirement of polishing my writing skills.

    We love your philosophy and your way of thinking... and i certainly look forward to hear more frequently from your side. :)

    Best Regards
     
  11. Rajinder384

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    A very good article.

    One should never refrain from speaking the Truth. Those who cannot make constructive debate are hiding behind their own failings or inadequacies.

    For example, I have tried, time and time again, to bring the issue of the cutting of hair and the shaving of beards into our local gurdwara. However, I have been ridiculed and insulted by a few people (especially parents) who take it as a criticism of themselves and their own failings. This is not the case. It is a collective failure of our organisational structure in Britain that many parents, let alone their children, do not know even the basic concepts of sikhi.

    Sikhi is all about questioning and challenging. Don't stop doing so.
     
  12. S|kH

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    I wasn't being sentimental when I said that...but rather that if she and everyone else thought it was a direct insult towards Christianity and no other religion or it impeded my goal of showing the contradiction amongst parents, than I clearly did something wrong.

    I would rather back off if the majority think that, and go back to my room, think again, and write a new paper, rather than just correct a sentence for the masses.

    If everyone thinks your wrong, theres just something wrong with the ideology or how you present your work.

    I'm not one that will just make a "quick-fix" to suit individuals...if I did something terribly wrong, I want to be able to fix it, so that way I write like that permanently and never make the mistake again. Get what I mean?

    I'm ready for criticism, but that was jus off-hand. If she's going to criticize, then she as well should be ready for a defense, especially when its nearly a personal-attack. 2 sentences written about Christianity with a parallel to Sikhism that get blown up?...what a thing to criticize.

    But, I in no way meant that I will easily "back off" just like that. lol, you guys know how I am by now. I just meant, if the sangat thinks so, its time to go back to the room to write again rather than just amend a sentence.

    I hate politicians that just state an apology to the masses because then you never learn how to correct the mistake, the same error will come out when your speaking on a different topic.

    Just my views,
    -Hareet
     
  13. Amerikaur

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    Hareet ji,

    I have one request. I have addressed you directly If you wish to address me, may I please ask that you do so directly, and not in the third-person.

    "I'm ready for criticism, but that was jus off-hand. If she's going to criticize, then she as well should be ready for a defense, especially when its nearly a personal-attack."

    I can tell that you are referring to me, but it is not clear what you desire from me. Can you please explain? I will be more than happy to respond in as much detail as you like.
     
  14. S|kH

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    That statement was in reply to Aman Singh ji, thats why it was in 3rd person. It was not an attempt to disrespect you in anyway.

    There is a difference between constructive criticism, and simply personal-bashing. You started out with constructive criticism by saying that the "insults" overtook the actual points in the paper, but then turned it into how you were sad that a fellow Sikh says that, and one who represents the youth...which goes along to a personal path..rather than asking

    Also, I replied directly to you, but I'll do it again...

    Amerikaur ji,

    The "insults" which you say were directed at Christianity were also directed at Sikhism. Please read the statements in context, and I draw a direct parallel between the situations of Christianity and Sikhism. To say I only insulted Christianity would be rather ridiculous. To say I only went after a central key concept of Christianity is also foolish too, the same would apply to Sikhism.
    It's written in Gurbani too that (please read previously posted quote). I guess I would also be insulting a gurbani phrase and a concept in Sikhi by questioning just how long or much does that concept work.

    If that is the case, then so be it, I'm ready to acknowledge that I did "insult" both religions in your eyes. But, if you want to say I only insulted Christianity, please re-read the statements in context again.

    Both references to Christianity and Christian history were drawn with direct parallels to Sikhism and Sikhism-"present". I do believe we need to read alot of Christian history and make sure we either 1) follow a different path, 2) follow a similar path, 3) follow the same path. The choice is yours.

    I never meant to insult the Christian religion, and still do not see how it is an insult to question a key concept. Perhaps, thats what gurbani has taught me, to become a skeptic. I never said that one concept NEVER worked, I just questioned how long will it work, as I see the numbers declining daily. Nor did I ever say that concept was completely in the wrong direction, but I do acknowledge that it worked alot at previous times, but I dont see as much effectiveness today.

    I hope that clears it up,
    -S|kH
     
  15. babbraa

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    I personally think that the article is very good and honest. I cannot see anything in the article, that would be offensive to Christainity or Christains. It is not criticizing their beliefs just their methods for advancing their faith. so what's the fuss?..
     
  16. Sher Singh

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    that was a great post!!! really enjoyed it! :)
     
  17. Neutral Singh

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  18. Amerikaur

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    Hareet ji,

    This is what I take issue with. "We all know the state of Christianity today, and mind you, they still practice similar techniques upon children to try to keep them within the Christian fold. Jesus died on the cross for you, just how long will that last?"

    Your article discusses the behaviors of SIKHS. Sikhs, as in people. Mortals.

    However, another faith is brought in to the mix, and it is introduced by a pandemic statement (We all know the state of Christianity today...) that sounds a bit...condescending...and the entire billions of Chrisitans in the world were dismissed with a single, broad brush. Plus, when I read it, what was going through my head was....what is the state of Christianity today? Well...it puts the world on hold for a week when a leader who does not even speak for all Christians passes away. What was that they were saying about the Pope and young people? Is that the state of Christianity today? What about all the Sikhs in Panjab that are changing their name to Masih? Is that the state of Christianity today? What about the South Americans, who are as a whole more devoted to Christianity and more deeply spritiual than the North Americans? Is that the state of Christianity today?

    Jesus dying on the cross for the sins of mankind is the apex theme of Christianity. To refer to it as a "psychological technique" is highly insulting to Christians, plus it detracts from you point, instead of building it. Instead of coming across as a young person with constructive criticism about a faith, it comes across as having an axe to grind. I'm sure that somewhere in this world, there is a young Catholic who has written a paper about the clergy sex abuse scandal. Perhaps that person expressed outrage about how it went on for decades under Cardinal Law in Boston, and yet he suffered practically no punishment for it. Perhaps that person may say that Sikhism is also on the decline, because Sikh Gurdwaras are also corrupt.

    If that were the case, I'd be just as ripping mad at the Catholic writer for whitewashing all of Sikhi with the same broad brush.

    While your article urges for seperation between Panjabi Culture and Sikh Culture, you choose to not make that seperation yourself. Your article is "A message from the Sikh Youth" yet it contains statements such as "Kids will die to dress American and possess the freedoms of Americans"

    You make that statement like Americans are not Sikhs. WE ARE!

    There are MANY Sikhs in this world that are not of an ethinicity that is Panjabi or even Indian! There are many American Sikhs and not just "goray", either...American Sikhs of ALL colors. Sikhism has spread to many, many countries. It is in many more places than just the UK and India.

    Panjabis and Sikhs are NOT interchangeable terms. Your article urges "Explicitly create the difference between Punjabi and Sikh culture. "

    Unfortunately, even your own article confuses the two.
     

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