The teenage offsprings of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, Willow and Jaden, had a sit down interview with Time magazine recently. And since its publication on Monday, the Smith kids have been on the receiving end of quite a few careless jokes and demeaning insults. I watched as media organizations refer to the interview (them) as crazy and bizarre, with some even insinuating drug use - and I read comments after comments, majority of which spoke (seemingly in anger) of Willow and Jaden's privileges, lack of 'normal people' struggles and basically "how dare they sit there and talk about life when they've had everything handed to them."
I was shocked… and admittedly a bit curious. I wanted to see how long people were going to unabashedly bully and mock these children simply because of their viewpoints and intellect. Yes, I said intellect.
It's fairly easy to dismiss what is being said because of the mouths they're coming from. But why is it not admirable that a 14 year-old girl is reading about the remarkably fascinating and (somewhat) complex world of quantum physics instead of going around taking selfies, worrying about body image issues and getting plastic surgery?
For those who aren't familiar with quantum physics, it's a physical science that deals with the behavior of matter and waves on the scale of atoms and subatomic particles. And there's nothing "out there" about quantum physics – MIT, one of the world's leading science and engineering institutions, currently offers several courses on this topic.
Jaden's reading choice is also quite an interesting one. The "Flower of Life" is something that I've read about in the past. The symbol is said to contain a "secret" shape that holds many mathematical and geometrical laws. It is also one of the oldest sacred symbols known to man, and can be found all over the world in most, if not all, major religions.
To me, it seems to be easier for people to attack the unknown than to venture outside of the everyday "norm" and expand the mind. I applaud Jaden and Willow for stepping off the societal 'factory line' and not conforming to the everyday ideals and ideas - and no, one does not have to be rich or privileged to do so.
Will and Jada are growing their children to think for themselves. What's so wrong with that? I'm sure we can all agree that society would greatly benefit from more people thinking outside the box.
Willow's statement of believing that time does not exist is way more plausible than you might think. In an interview with Discover Magazine, Seth Lloyd, a quantum mechanical engineer at MIT stated that "The possibility that time may not exist is known among physicists as the "problem of time." Time is not something that exists apart from the universe - there is no clock ticking outside the cosmos. However, many people tend to think of time the way Newton did: "Absolute, true and mathematical time, of itself, and from its own nature, flowing equably, without regard to anything external." But as Einstein proved, time is part of the fabric of the universe. Contrary to what Newton believed, our ordinary clocks don't measure something that's independent of the universe. In fact, clocks don't really measure time at all.
"I recently went to the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder," said Lloyd. (NIST is the government lab that houses the atomic clock that standardizes time for the nation.) "I said something like, 'Your clocks measure time very accurately.' They told me, 'Our clocks do not measure time.' I thought, Wow, that's very humble of these guys. But they said, 'No, time is defined to be what our clocks measure.' Which is true. They define the time standards for the globe: Time is defined by the number of clicks of their clocks."
Still think these kids are on drugs? How about this for a thought, Willow spoke about the feeling of being in a holographic reality - but did you know that a team of physicists has provided some of the clearest evidence yet that our Universe could be just one big projection? According to Nature, in 1997, theoretical physicist Juan Maldacena proposed that an audacious model of the Universe in which gravity arises from infinitesimally thin, vibrating strings could be reinterpreted in terms of well-established physics. The mathematically intricate world of strings, which exist in nine dimensions of space plus one of time, would be merely a hologram: the real action would play out in a simpler, flatter cosmos where there is no gravity.
It continues to baffle me why teenagers talking about source energy and universal truths would make so many people angry. This type of thinking should be embraced, not mocked. The topic of prana (also known as energy or chi) is something that has been spoken about and understood by many Eastern traditions for thousands of years, and it's only now slowly trickling into the Western frame of thinking. Several cultures believe that prana is taken into the body through the top of our heads, and like Jaden said, through the soft spot in new-born babies. Why is it seen as bizarre? Many people are familiar with meditation, but meditation and energy go hand in hand, so is talking about prana really that crazy?
Jaden and Willow are a gifted pair. What does it matter that they were born into privilege and under the spotlight? So what if they don't go to 'regular school', it is suffocating and depressing – bullying, suicides and school shootings happen way too frequently these days. And drivers ed does produce bad drivers. It is also proven that some children function remarkably better after being removed from the stringent control of the education system. Come on, a six year-old who writes her own novels? Admit it, that's pretty awesome.
Say what you want about these two, but Willow and Jaden are wise beyond their years. They have delved into concepts understood by some of the most intellectual minds, and I think it's refreshing. These kids weren't being self-centred or pompous; they weren't talking about being caught up in the obvious plasticity of Hollywood, they spoke about things that people live, breathe, and discuss every day.
Bottom line, Jaden and Willow are talented and innovative artists - and as French-born composer Edgard Varèse said, "Contrary to general belief, an artist is never ahead of his time but most people are far behind theirs."
[Image via Vanity Fair]