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Cultural Awareness in Healthcare

Sikh Western Conflicts

Sikhs: conflicts with western society Sikhism is a very tolerant religion and is largely concerned with the search for the simple truth in all things. This can lead people to assume a 'they won't mind' attitude towards Sikhs. However, with recent global troubles, many Sikhs have begun to question their place in 'western' society, and the elder generation in particular is becoming concerned about how their children are adopting non-Sikh clothing, music and behaviours. There is also rising concern about drug and alcohol misuse among young people. One of the most common problems a Sikh has to face is the widely held belief that alcohol and tobacco are a necessary part of life, and that anyone who does not partake in one or the other is somehow not normal. Alcohol and tobacco are taboo; they cannot even be taken into a gurdwara, and no Sikh would be happy to be given food that contained alcohol.

For healthcare staff, this may present a problem when it comes to socialising with other staff, particularly at parties. Clothing is becoming an issue for many older Sikhs. The original Punjabi Sikh community was a group of proud men and women who fiercely defended their right to wear the turban and long hair and even now many elderly Sikhs take pride in their distinctive appearance. The idea that their children crave jeans, short-cropped hair and exposed midriffs goes against everything they are proud of and fought for. Because the Sikh religion is based on a way of life rather than a holy revelation, most of its principles have adapted easily to cope with advances in technology and society. Sikhs are happy to accept infertility treatment, organ donation and genetic engineering to cure disease because these procedures act to preserve life, one of their main ideals. However, as tolerant and modern as Sikhs are, they will not easily accept the validity of a procedure that goes against these principles, such as the termination of pregnancy.

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