Saturday, September 10, 2016

Quote from Entertainment Weekly from Kenya Barris - I Respectfully Disagree

There is a quote from Entertainment Weekly spoken by Kenya Barris, the creator of the show black-ish, which I truly enjoy and think is fantastic. I have a lot of respect for Barris' work and creativity, but there's a quote from him in the Sept. 16/23, 2016 edition of EW that I think requires more thought. Now, I realize that God and religion are deeply personal for people, and the opinion I share will not be shared by everyone. And that's okay! I am sharing my personal outlook on it, and I recognize that others may not share my view.

There's an upcoming episode of black-ish in which teenage Zoey tells her dad, Dre, that she may not believe in a higher power. Barris pulled this from his own experience when his daughter shared her potential lack of belief. The quotes from the magazine are as follows:

The genesis of the episode came from a conversation Barris had with his own daughter during a routine car ride when she shared her doubts about her faith.

"What I realized [about my daughter] was the idea came from a sense of entitlement that [my wife and I] gave her. For me growing up, you had to have something above you to give you hope. She didn't need that. Her hope was us."

I think this statement sets a dangerous precedent about kids questioning their beliefs. Sure, parents want to pass their beliefs down to their kids. But is it really okay to shut down your kid's feelings because you don't agree with them? And believe that because you gave your child a good life, they have no right to question their belief system?

I understand what Barris is saying - he needed faith to get him through tough times, whereas his daughter has her parents to lean on for her needs. But why is it okay to deny her feelings as a sense of entitlement?  Many people believe in a higher power, many do not. It's totally okay for Barris' daughter to seek her own answers to faith. Perhaps Barris could have considered some different options:

- My daughter has all she needs, so she doesn't need faith. (His takeaway.)
- My daughter may genuinely not share my opinion. Let me talk to her about why I believe in a higher power, and see where we agree and disagree. She may consider some things I've never thought about.
- My daughter may not share my beliefs, and she's a teenager. She's going through a lot. Maybe she can speak to a counselor to discuss her feelings. She's entitled to her opinions, whether or not I agree. She's entitled to her own belief system.

The danger of Barris' wording is that it's not okay for his daughter to not believe in a divine spirit - but it really is! In the way that it's okay for Barris to believe, his daughter has the exact same choice. And sweeping her feelings under the rug as entitled and wrong isn't going to help her with her critical thinking skills or to have confidence in herself and her opinions. Being a non-believer is NOT the sign of an entitled person; it's the sign of someone who has a viewpoint that works for them. You don't have to be entitled in order to not believe, likewise, you don't have to live any particular type of life to be a believer.

My point is this - and I firmly stand by it - if you live your life in a moral and ethical way, you can believe anything that you want. In reality, we may believe what WE believe, but that's our own personal opinion, and we should be open to discussion with those who have different belief systems. Do we truly know what's right? I don't think so, otherwise there wouldn't be so many differing opinions in the world. We can only go with what we think is right, live our lives in a positive way, and love and respect others for who they are, regardless of whether or not we agree with their views.

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