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. --------------------------------------------- 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.