Last Wednesday, I learned from my wife that some of the friends of my daughter at high school were smoking cigarettes. And, when a couple of them offered her to smoke, she just politely said no thanks and just walked away and did not want to do anything with them anymore. When I heard this, I was so overjoyed with pride. I don’t see it just smoking or non-smoking issue, but what I see it is that she had the will power and inner strength to walk away from it all, which some of teenagers just don’t seem to have. I did not go to high school here in the U.S., but have learned quite a bit over the years. It must be really difficult to get away from drugs, alcohol, smoking and sex. I mean all these stories about teenagers doing all kind of things. It may seem like an easy thing for some parents and teenager, but I can’t even imagine getting a handle on it sine that is what is being portrayed in the movies, media, and music. . Sometimes, I wonder if I would have had the strength to do what she did or just go with the flow to keep my friends, which are everything to a teenager. With the drugs and alcohol even taking over teenagers in Punjab and other parts of India, this is a menace everywhere. Even I heard some Punjabi youth from Sikh families living in Canada and here are choosing gangs, guns and drugs over Sikhi and education. I don’t know about the severity of the problem in UK or Australia. But it is definitely a great challenge to Sikhism and Punjabi culture and I hope we don’t lose this battle. Have can we grow this weak so quickly? What happened to those strong willed shining Sikhs of the early centuries that I heard about? May be we have gotten so rich and prosperous in India and elsewhere that some of us have forgotten the spiritual side of Sikhi. Or have we become too lazy on government handouts of our countries that we have forgotten the good Sikh values of hard work, simran, and courage. How can Sikhs be ready to defend their faith against the next aggression by another government or religious majority, if kids are turning into illiterate gangsters, druggies and alcoholics? Are the parents too busy working to get ahead in life, or attending bhangra parties and socializing that nobody is taking the time to slow down and may be read to their kids, teaching the importance of Sikhi, take them to parks, museums, libraries, teach them ethical values, check their homework, and other teach them wrongs and rights of the society that they are living among. Yes, life is hard when you are a minority everywhere on this earth, but that should not stop you from taking steps to take care your own kids and shape a better future for them financially and spiritually. Lately, it seems to me that Sikhs are acting like victims and don’t want to take charge to make any change in the societies. Why don’t we take active roles in the societies that we live among? I wish I would see more Sikhs at libraries, museums, ethnic festivals and not just Bhangra parties. We don’t have to take drugs, alcohol, smoking to fit into the western society. We can fit in just fine without it. If I raise my kids to be victims all their early lives then they will act like victims their remaining lives. I want to raise them to be leaders and change makers not just mere followers. It is not easy thing but at least I am trying and am proud of it. During my trip to India in 2003 after 20 years, one thing that bothered me and disappointed me the most was how so many people are just sitting idle in the countryside. I wish there were libraries in each village for them to go to so they can read and gain knowledge and make their live productive. Are we just waiting for the governments of the countries that we live in to take care of us, feed us, provide us the benefits etc What happened to those Sikh values of our ability take care of ourselves thru hard work, open our own companies, create businesses and be successful where we live on this Earth. During my visit, I went to a bookstore in Jallandhar and asked the owner how the business was going? His answer was “lousy”. He had just moved from Bombay, and compared the book sales there to the ones in Jalandhar. I remember him saying that people in Punjab don’t like to read books. To me a book store was a good indication of where things were as far as Punjab being number #1 state in India. Sometimes I even wonder about the strength of Sikh soldiers and officers in the Indian army, if they are all shown with a Chivas in their hands in movies and real life stories, how can they defend the country? I guess if our role models are like Dharmendra in Sholay or Partigya or Shar Rukh Khan in Devdas with a bottle of alcohol in hands, how can we learn? We just take pride that since they are the our heroes in a movie or Dharnmenda is a Punjabi, no matter what he portrays in movies, it must be Okay for Punjabis to do. I wish someday, bollywood would just stop imitating everything western and make some quality movies that parents can show their kids to teach good values. May be I ma just too old, but all of the dance routines in Punjabi T.V. shows or Bollyowood movies just looking alike to me and seem like I have nothing new to learn from them Tell me what you think. Anyways, too long of a post, but I just wanted to share this with people out there. Hope for a better change and it starts with me and you. I am proud of my daughter and hope I she can keep it up with the challenges that lie ahead in her life!!