The Black & White Truth About Drugs

The other day I was driving somewhere and saw a church sign which read, “Help fight fentanyl.”

It struck me as odd. I wondered why they would make such a statement. It’s not like fentanyl is some big scary monster standing on hind legs chasing people around whilst forcing itself upon them.

Taking drugs is a conscious decision. Sure a lot of the lives being lost lately due to drug use are teen lives – to that at least I can say these teens don’t have the proper decision making skills as their pre-frontal cortex hasn’t fully developed yet. Which is the area of the brain in charge of controlling your likelihood to behave impulsively.

So they have an actual physiological excuse for such moronic behaviour.

But to everyone whose a grown ass adult abusing your body by taking drugs – I do not feel in the least bit sorry for you.

Hundreds of thousands of people would kill to have a fully functional healthy body to be able to live out their lives in. Like those suffering from terminal illness or other disease. And yet you so carelessly pump your bodies full of garbage and then you feel you’ve been done some sort of injustice when there’s a lethal substance traced through those harmful chemically created substances.

It’s absolute bullshit.

The media needs to stop portraying people dying from the overflow of fentanyl in the streets as some sort of victims.

You reap what you sow. You want to take drugs, deal with the possibility that snort, pill, or shot – might be the last high or breath you ever have.

Rant over.

Choose life. Choose using your damn brain.

Saving the Past, Present, and Future of Punjab

Not too long ago the word Punjabi conjured images of a hardworking and determined person of integrity. These are the tenets upon which our generations past have built and solidified their futures. Somewhere along the lines, these characteristics were lost. Perhaps it was the result of the oblivious and all too forgiving nature of Indian parents towards their offspring. Or perhaps it was a more gradual subtle change in the psyche of Punjabi youth. The end result is that of a dying culture. A culture once so rich and proud – is now being likened to that of impoverished and drug stricken slums inhabiting an ethnic group in danger of extinction.

Regardless of the cause of this social epidemic, the solution is clear. We must unite together to save our youth. This may be easier said than done. However, the initial step to solving any social crisis is always to spread the word. Communicate, discuss, and deliberate what can be done to steer Punjabis around the world into the right direction. If those in our motherland have lost their way, what will become of those of us spread so wide and far from our roots?

We must return to the source, and bring back to life the religion and culture that brought us to the place we are at today. There are many people from Punjab who have reached admirable levels of success abroad. However, those youngsters pining at the dream of emigrating from India are killing any chance of a future they may have – in India or elsewhere.

They are doing so by turning to serious hard-core drugs such as heroin and other extremely harmful substances. Although there is a line between cultural norms and religious guidance we must keep in mind that this is not what is in our “dharm” (duty) and most definitely not what our Gurus envisioned for us as a people. The Sikh people are meant to be lifelong scholars on a quest for higher enlightenment while spreading goodwill along the way. Instead, we have somehow stooped so low as to become the ones we are meant to be providing aid to. What has become of our people? This is a serious issue that could have catastrophic effects if not attended to immediately. This is not just a social issue of India. It is an issue for humanity. It is the issue of every Indo-Canadian who cares about carrying their lineage forward. One should never expect to excel forward, if they forget to look back from where they have risen. We must aid those who have lost their way back to the true “Gursikhi” way. We must ensure the prevention of anymore individuals falling by the wayside.

Only a few short years ago Punjab was a prideful gem of India. Now – the downfall of not only the economy of this state but its social stature is shocking and undeniable. According to several Indian news outlets billions of dollars are involved in the drug trade annually – in this region alone. For nearly a decade, the frequency of drug use amongst Punjabi youth in India has increased dramatically. All the while the numbers of youth graduating from post-secondary institutions have been dwindling. A 2011 study conducted on drug use and alcoholism in Punjab revealed that 1.5 to 2 million of youth ages 15-25 are in the devastating cycle of drug abuse. These numbers are staggering and hard to conceptualize. However, we must not turn a blind eye to this. This issue has become so prevalent and threatening that several Western media outlets have reported on this growing battle. The Washington Post Newspaper wrote an article about premature death amongst Punjabi males leaving several hundred women widowed in certain villages. If Punjab’s current vulnerable state has caught global attention – it should also ignite our inner desire to do something about this as well.

The answer is clear – we must return to inhibiting the qualities that make us unique from any other cultural group. We must apply those characteristics from which we are historically differentiated to become something we can all be proud of once again. The manner in which this can be achieved is by promoting the importance of education. Naturally, if the youth are occupied in an educational system, to which they feel they belong on every level of their being – mind, body, and spirit, they will be salvaged. There will be no room in their hearts or desires for any mind altering substances. Their psyches will be fulfilled and equipped with knowledge to succeed in life.

There have been certain credible individuals taking initiative in India to aid in solving this problem. However, they cannot do so without our support. A particular example of a possible sanctuary for impressionable youth in which all they require can be provided is The Akal Academy of India. Their previous locations have had great successes in transforming lives. The new campus which is currently under construction will essentially be an academic community which would be the perfect vessel for keeping our youth off the streets and away from chasing dangerous highs. It is currently under construction in a Northern part of Punjab and being a part of the development of this post-secondary institute is one of the many things which need to be done as an antidote to this disease plaguing the villages of Punjab. Please promote awareness of this issue. Please save our roots and futures from destruction.

To read The Washington Post Newspaper article visit:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/drug-epidemic-grips-indias-punjab-state/2012/12/31/092719a2-48f6-11e2-b6f0-e851e741d196_story.html

To learn more about drug use in Punjab visit:

http://www.isas.nus.edu.sg/Attachments/PublisherAttachment/ISAS_Working_Paper_No__177_-_Factors_Driving_Drug_Abuse_in_India’s_Punjab_24092013171919.pdf

To learn more about Akal Academy visit:

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http://akalacademy.org/AA/

 

 

 

The Surrey Bubble

When I was fourteen and my parents told me we were moving to Surrey I did not speak to them for weeks. The reason for this was because I had an extremely negative image of the city. In my teenage opinion, it was a place full of people who I considered completely beneath me. They were people who did not know how to speak English correctly, and even worse, individuals who had poor taste in music, clothes, and television shows. I believed that these people just did not understand the “Western way of life” which I was so accustomed to. I grew up as a small town girl always being the token East-Indian in a group of friends. Often times I even forgot that I wasn’t one of them. I had pretty much convinced myself I was actually meant to be born Caucasian. In my eyes, to be anything else was inferior. My adolescent mind believed being Caucasian was the default setting of being human. I did not want to be a deviation. I did not want to be different. Whether this was a result of watching my parents be victims of blatant racism, or growing up with subtle stereotypes and prejudices surrounding me, I am not sure. However, what I am sure of is that none of that mattered anymore once I actually moved here.

Being Indo-Canadian and moving to Surrey is like being welcomed back into a society to which you never knew you belonged to in the first place. Very quickly, I learned that at school there was a “brown hallway” and a “white hallway.” Being accustomed to socializing with Caucasian females my entire life, I initially attempted to join their social circle, only to be guided down to the direction of where I was actually “meant to be.” Fast-forward a couple years and when I look back with 20/20 hindsight I realize that although there was indeed social segregation occurring between the two ethnicities – I pretty much forgot about it and took it to be the norm after a few short months. I soon learned that it actually felt pretty fantastic to no longer feel self-conscious about my “weird smelling” Indian food when friends came over. Or speaking Punjabi with my grandparents in front of them either. Everybody else was just like me, I was no longer pretending to be just like everybody else. It was amazing. All was well until I realized that a part of the younger generation of East-Indian culture there was also this strange phenomenon of rebellion. The majority of my peers skipped school, smoked marijuana, drank alcohol, and engaged in many promiscuous behaviours which probably need not be mentioned. So, being the diligent follower I was – I engaged in several of these activities as well without a second thought.

Now, this is when the “Surrey bubble” begins to form. You act in ways which in any other region of Canada would be considered extremely socially unacceptable. However, because everyone around you is the exact same way – it really does not matter. You are constantly exposed to a certain mentality of no requirement to excel, never being reprimanded for wrong-doings, and receiving everything on a “silver platter.” What I wish to do is pop this Surrey bubble. I urge parents to question why they are handing their seventeen year olds the keys to a brand new vehicle at no effort of their own. One must question why are their offspring not being taught the value of hard work and perseverance?

I do find it pertinent to state that it is understandable why our parents fell into this style of parenting without realizing the catastrophic dangers of it. They come from a generation of not only working to provide, but working to survive. All they wanted for their children was a better life than they had growing up. They came to Canada with the hopes and dreams of starting a new future, many with a completely blank slate. By being so afraid of having too little, they end up giving too much. This trend actually ends up socially handicapping their children rather raising them higher.

It is undeniable that there are many problems with adolescents and young adults in any region in the world. What makes the youth of Surrey differ from the rest of them, is that in this city there seems to be a misconception that problematic behaviours are the norm. This “Surrey bubble” can only be burst when one is exposed to different types of cultures and societies. We must make them aware that there is a whole world out there that is not covered with a puff of marijuana smoke. We must stress the dangers of behaviours like beginning to drink at a young age and taking recreational drugs. Being a part of this way of life may become a cycle which could ultimately end with amounting to be an individual who has a whole lot of nothing to offer society. It is our responsibility (the select few of us who broke away from this crippling psyche) to educate our youth that there are even places in the world where it is the norm to refrain from drinking or taking drugs all together. Eventually, this could spark a trend of it being socially acceptable to be someone who abstains from using any type of mind altering drug at all for his or her entire life.

It seems the youth of today all have something to prove.  Perhaps it is that they too fit in with the “ghetto” life. They wish to outshine one another with their trials and tribulations even though the majority of them are living in half a million dollar houses. One can blame social media, rap music, or glorification of this way of life through many other outlets – however we must realize that we too were at one point in this haze. We must utilize whatever critical thinking skills brought us out of it, and save the youth of Surrey. There is no ghetto here – only a youth that needs to be pulled away from the appeal of living without aspiration.