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A couple of years ago, some Sikh parents in Toronto were charged with child abuse, based on the evidence given by their children. It is sad that a twenty-minute documentary was shown on television depicting the 'harsh' and 'dictatorial' behavior of the parents towards their grown up children. The Sikhs felt bad, some even angry and raised objections against presenting this negative image of them by the media. The community felt that the parents did no wrong because it was their duty to save their children from going on the wrong path.

I happened to watch the documentary and was very much upset to observe the irresponsible behavior of our youth and the 'wrong' reaction of their parents. Some students missed their classes to participate in daytime drink-and-dance gatherings. The parents hit the children for ignoring their studies and failing their examinations.

Some well-behaved senior students of Toronto were known to me. I called them to an informal meeting to discuss the issue with them. I wanted them to advise the rebellious youth that their primary responsibility is to study. Further, they should convince their junior friends to listen to their parents and be respectful to them.

To the responsible youth gathered in a friends house, I proposed, "Let us try to understand where we have failed to let that sad incidence happen, and what we can do to improve the image of our community." Unexpectedly, everyone started blaming me as if I was the real culprit responsible for the problem. It appeared as if the youth had summoned me to be thrashed by them for my failures.

"Uncle, you are a coward teacher. You tell us to respect the Sikh tenets. Why do you not dare to tell the same thing to the parents and the adults? Are you scared to face them? Are you a Sikh? A Sikh is not scared to tell the truth?..."

The tables having been turned on me, I became speechless. Everyone had something to say to me as if they had planned to accuse me, or maybe, to awaken me to my duty, whichever way one may think. They even named some responsible Sikhs, members of the gurdwara management, and even some preachers, who did not care to respect Sikh Maryada." Mr. A. Singh got drunk at the party, his turban fell off, and his hair were spread; even Mr. B. Singh was found drinking. Last Sunday, Mr. C and Mrs. C. celebrated the silver jubilee of their wedding. Some Sikhs drank too much, they fought among themselves and were arrested by the police.”

This seemed to go on ad infinitum. The break came when one youth said, "Why blame youth? Adults are the role model for us. If these things are good for them, they cannot be bad for us. If you are a fearless Sikh, you should advise the parents. You did not dare to tell this even once to them." Shooting of these allegations ended when one of them said, "It is no use telling us to follow the Sikh Reht, to avoid alcohol and not to dance at parties, unless you make our parents practice it. As long as the parents do not listen to you, the youth will not care to listen to you."

I humbly agreed, "Yes, I respect your wishes. I will convey your feelings whenever I have a chance to address the Sangat."

The very next Sunday, I told everything in detail to the Sangat at the Dixie Road Gurdwara. I shared my feelings with the Sangat without any sophistication in the following words.

 "The other day, the youth slapped me, of course, not with their hands, but with their words.... Unless the parents themselves observe the Sikh Reht, how can they expect the youth to follow it? When we enter the gurdwara hall, all of us bow to the Guru Granth Sahib. It means we respect Gurbani and promise to obey its directions. Gurbani says that a Sikh should not drink. (I quoted hymns to support my statement). To save our children, whom we love so much, I request all Sikhs here in the gurdwara to throw away the bottle, and start reciting Nitnem from today onwards."

My words did have their desired effect, as I was told later. I narrated this thrashing given to me by the youth to the Sangat at many places. It might have displeased a few Sikhs who relish drinking, but helped many others to give up alcohol and to practice the Sikh Reht.




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