By Pradip Rodrigues
Mississauga, December 18 (CINEWS): Talk to many South Asian parents and they will tell you that their children have some really strong views about many issues that trouble them or simply leave them dumbfounded. They interpret just about everything quite differently and delve into subjects and issues more deeply. The depth shows in their passionate arguments and viewpoints.
Millennials are very sensitive about a range of issues
I know all about it. Years ago I had a lively discussion with a millennial which quickly degenerated into a fiery argument about whether racism was really the same or worse than casteism in India. I resolved never to get into any discussion involving a sensitive subject with anyone under 25.
I’ve spoken to parents of millennials who simply won’t dare talk to their children about a whole bunch of issues because they have very strong views and even stronger tempers. While many parents talk about their children being ultra-liberal and refusing to accept any other viewpoints, others say they are surprised at the interest their children show when it comes to understanding their religion and culture.
I have a Muslim friend who occasionally comes by my home to have a drink because he cannot drink at home. “My wife is okay with me drinking but I cannot ever drink in front of my two teenage children who will go berserk,” he said. One time at a party, when his daughter caught him sneaking a drink, she grabbed the glass from his hand and relieved him of it, leaving his friends all flabbergasted.
I recall listening to a radio interview where a second-generation South Asian spoke about his trip to New Delhi and was deeply disillusioned by the materialism and westernization.
Why second-generation youth are becoming more observant
To understand why second-generation South Asians are getting more observant in their faith, I had a long chat with Balpreet Singh, who is a legal counsel for the World Sikh Organization. His father didn’t wear a turban, neither did he until he turned 15, that’s when he made a choice to be initiated. He explained that when his parents’ generation or the first generation came to Canada, they wanted to fit in, so many men cut their hair in order to find jobs. Fitting in was a priority along with finding employment and providing for their families. They had little time to explore identity and other such deep issues. Fast-forward to their children, many of the second-generation have been insulated from hard times, they’ve lived comfortable lives, never had to struggle and are pretty well-educated. These are the ones who tend to delve deeply into religion, race, culture and identity. They are also most likely to get initiated into the faith. “They’ve had the luxury of not having to worry about their next meal and have had the space to think,” says Balpreet. He adds that he’s noticed that those second generation Sikhs who get initiated tend to come from upper class backgrounds. Finding a second-generation Sikh person from a blue-collared background who has strong views on religion and culture is a little more rare.
Many second-generation youth who’ve grown up in Canada feel fully Canadian and very integrated into the mainstream. Ironically it is because they feel secure in their place in society that they choose to practice their faith in a more visible fashion. They are proud and confident about who they are, unlike many first-generation immigrants who have one foot in the old country and feel a little socially disoriented in Canada.
It is important to have a sense of identity
I think it is important for all ethnic minorities to be proud of their roots, their culture and their faith. I do believe there is what is called identity poverty among many young ethnic minorities. And while I am all for empowerment through finding one’s place in society as well as in one’s faith and culture, it is equally important not to let that journey to self-discovery be cause for alienation from the mainstream. It is one thing to become more observant as long as that doesn’t advance into the territory of intolerance.