Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Role Models

I’m still working on part 2 of my other post but I thought I’d write about something that happened to me recently.   

I have been thinking a lot lately about balancing the “worlds” in which I live. I think we all have developed our own balance, and some people choose to change that up from what their parents have passed down a lot, some change it a little, and some choose to keep it mostly the same. For my parent’s generation I think it was quite a bit of a difference because they were the first ones in the family to immigrate to Canada. When my dad immigrated to rural Canada in the 70s, he had to be his own role model for figuring out how to balance his value systems. He had to figure out if and how to maintain his roots at a time that there was a lot of racism. Some people did abandon their roots, in order to survive. It must have been really hard work for our parent’s generation to make so many changes and adjustments- new language, lifestyle, jobs, etc. and at the same time figure out how to raise their children in a new environment. From many generations of doing things the same, now things were much different.

The work isn’t over for us, the Canadian-born Sikhs though. For me, I value some of our cultural values and traditions from India like valuing family, but I don’t believe in others like son-preference. In those ways I value western culture. I love Sikhism- I pray, do kirtan, go to the gurdwara, don’t drink/smoke/do drugs, etc., but I’m not amritdhari. So now if I’m looking for role models with similar value systems, I find it especially difficult. For example many of the Canadian- born working women I know don’t practice Sikhism in their daily life, the religious women I know have chosen to keep all of their South Asian cultural values from India that place women in a submissive role. Some of the women I know who embrace western culture have chosen it over our traditions, and our religious practices (such as drinking alcohol, etc.). At the end of the day I know people are going to balance their worlds differently, and that's okay because people make their own choices. People can still be role models for us in various areas of our life. It just makes it hard when you don’t have someone to talk to that shares your goals/view of life...It can be kind of isolating. 

I ended up going on a walk and talking to my dad about role models. I was feeling like maybe the way I am living is greatly flawed in some way and that’s why I don’t have the role model I want in my life. I think God decided that someone needed to resolve this for me because something really quite amazing happened. On our walk we met a Sikh man who was new to our neighbourhood and we had seen him around a few times. My dad had talked to him just briefly the week before. The man introduced himself to me, and shortly into the conversation said in Punjabi “I may not know you personally, but I’ve worked with lots of kids (turns out he used to be the principal of a school of 4,000 kids), and I can just see from faraway that you have excellent values. I just know from observing you. You should thank your father for what he has done for you, and your father should thank you for what you have done too. You are lucky to have a father like him, he is lucky to have a daughter like you. Maybe your parents did work hard to get here, but you have worked really hard to get to where you are too. I am so proud to see someone like you.” I was so shocked. I was shocked because the very thing that was on my mind was answered. I was shocked because it was as if he knew everything that had been bothering me, knew our conversation, knew our lives. I was touched deeply by his words and I thanked God for this experience that reaffirmed that it’s okay if I don’t have the exact role model I’m looking for. I’ll just be the person I am and want to be and things will work out. It can certainly feel lonely to walk a path alone. It feels like you are walking into a a dark tunnel and you're not sure if there is another end or not. The one thing we can count on is the God will be with us no matter what and therefore, we truly are never all alone! 

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