Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!
The Sikh community has not been divided... it has been shattered. Popular culture, politics and an unfortunate escape from reality is plaguing the Sikh family in North America.
It is time, parents, educators, guardians, and community members, to step away from the facade of politics and step into the lives of the future, our youth. By the Guru's grace I have the opportunity today to try to present the sangat with a message that far too many people have realized and ignored. The Future Lies Within the Youth.
In today's society, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Sikh Youth
to harmonize values deemed important to the "West" with those
deemed central to Sikhism. This problem is further perpetuated by the fact
that many parents are more concerned with the political on-goings of India
or with their image in our community rather than the lives of their children.
often forces children to look for answers elsewhere. Where are young people expected to go? Most of our community leaders, web sites and books provide conflicting messages - and think about this - our Sikh community does not even have ONE non-political Sikh Youth Center in Canada... Where, I ask again, are young people expected to go?
It is sad that an event like this - such a great celebration of young Sikhs in our community - has taken so long to materialize. Young people have hardly received the attention and respect so necessary to their development as community members and individuals in society.
Now is the time to fill our gurudwaras with diversity, in culture, gender and most importantly - age. A young Sikh should come to the gurudwara to experience the bliss of the word of the guru, to learn the powerful teachings of the saints, to become humble and to forfeit attachment to social rituals. We have not constructed an environment of bliss, of harmony, of love. Instead we have allowed gurudwaras, our most sacred places, to become cesspools of controversy and political quarreling.
In the past few years, many youth groups have formed in an attempt to
strengthen and develop the identity of Sikh youth. Many of these organizations
are actively fighting for social justice, human rights and many other positive
causes. Unfortunately, lack of support within our community has slowed the
growth of many of these groups. It is hard to believe that as established
and successful our community is, monetary reasons prevent Sikh youth groups
from reaching their full potential and
fulfilling their missions.
The unfortunate focus on money, personal affairs and insignificant issues among today's Sikh leadership sets a poor example for youth - the leaders of tomorrow. Adults - you must educate young people and expose them to the basic values of our religion like modesty, philanthropy and truth so that they develop a passionate and sincere interest in becoming a true Sikh.
A true Sikh. essays upon essays could be written on what a true Sikh is. How is a Sikh supposed to live? What qualities lie within the heart of a Sikh, and what aspects of his or her character help him or her to shine? Modesty, Humility, Faith, Grace, Wisdom, Discipline, Courage. We must teach our youth to develop these traits. We must teach our youth to live the Reht, or way of life, that the gurus have taught.
Exemplifying the Sant-Sipahi and being the embodiment of the Khalsa is
a way of life not many of us can attest to. If we cannot follow the path
set out for us by our Gurus, how can we expect the survival of Sikh ideals
in forthcoming generations? The first guru, Sahib Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji
said, "Highest of all is Truth; Still Higher is Truthful Living."
Living in truth,
and living by example is the key to ensuring that the principles taught by our Gurus will be reflected by the Sikhs of tomorrow.
As important a role parents play in shaping the leadership of the future,
the onus to change does not only fall upon them. It is also up to today's
youth to initiate change. We cannot expect to be spoon-fed for the rest
of our lives. We must be proactive and take on some responsibility. If you
lack knowledge in a particular area, ask your parents; ask other knowledgeable
individuals in our community, read books. Most importantly - connect with the other young people. at an event like this, and discuss your issues, ideas and concerns.
I am a young person - I understand how difficult it can be to refuse
giving in to social and emotional pressures. Young people are plagued by
attachment these days - one of the five evils. Attachment to society and
fashion pull young people away from being pro-active, and eager to learn.
If you really want to start to live the lifestyle of a Sikh, sleep early
and rise at Amrit
Vela and meditate. A Sikh is told to pray at Amrit Vela. because this is the time when one can truly drink the pure nectar of the guru's words. This is the time that you can focus on God and therefore control your mind. Once you do this, suddenly, sports, school, work, and family - everything will become easier to deal with.
However, all of this comes after change. Young people are always complaining that they don't receive enough respect within the community, but once we change our self-centered ways and forfeit our egos, and once we become united as young people, only then will we receive that respect. If you expect change to take place, you must work for it. You are the leaders of tomorrow and I am very happy to say that some of you - through persistence and determination - have become the leaders of today. Young people - learn from those leaders who asked you to come here today. Learn from those young leaders who organize meetings and conferences and camps and other gatherings. Young people; within you lies the power to shape many future generations.
It takes a whole community to raise a child; a new generation of true
Sikhs will take much more than that. Charity begins at home, so at home
parents and guardians, you must instill the values in youth that our gurus
taught and help young people develop mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
It is also up to the educators and volunteers to positively influence young
so that they get involved in the Sikh way of life for the right reasons. And Young people -in your path towards becoming a true Sikh. remember that the Guru is always with you. Become an active member of your community, respect others for what they believe in and live in the present. The qualities of a true Sikh - try to use them in your life. The Reht of a true Sikh, try to
adapt it to your life. The mind of a true Sikh is modest and controlled, and yours can become this too.
Please let me finish by saying that I appreciate all of the hard work
that goes into youth programs, camps, meetings and other gatherings like
this one and we should recognize young leaders like the ones who brought
us together here today. I hope that all the leaders in our community make
sure that this function, does not remain just that. Let this evening be
the inspiration for
youth involvement in gurudwaras all over British Columbia. Let this evening be inspiration to parents to work together with their children and build a foundation of Sikh principles in their homes. I, myself, am trying to adapt the principles of Sikhism to my life, and let me tell you that although the process is difficult, the rewards are immeasurable. Please realize that my
intentions in this speech are to inspire positive change, and if something has offended you I apologize.
The Sikh Community is a family, and we can stand, united as Sikhs of the Guru if we work together. We must start asking questions - we must start giving unbiased, honest answers. Let us work as a family, and put together these shattered pieces. Once we conquer our minds, the problems will disappear and the future will be all ours.
WaheguruJi Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!
Simon Fraser University Sikh Students Association