I read a blog this morning where the author asserted that Being Open-minded is Overrated.
I disagree with the premise that to have an open-mind is over-rated in the 21st century and, in fact, would advocate the opposite. I think some of the primary aspects of what it means to have an open-mind were overlooked or simply not understood by the author. We need not agree (or disagree) with the beliefs or opinions of others to experience an open mind.
We do, however, need to set aside our own ideas and beliefs. (This does not mean we can't reclaim them if we are attached to them although they are less needed than we might think. Just think about the thousands of thoughts we think each day and the uselessness of most.)
Open-mindedness is not something we possess or lack but simply describes a state of receptivity to the consideration of ideas that lie outside our own. The words denote our willingness to favorably entertain or receive the ideas or opinions of others. (Please notice the keywords here are Willingness and Favorably). Most of us are seldom in a truly open-minded state.
The opposite of an open-mind is to be narrow-minded, opinionated, judgmental, prejudiced, biased, etc., etc.
I don't believe these are attributes Christ, Buddha, or any Enlightened Leader would advocate we embody or personify.
(We also know that the path we are advised to take is not the easy road but a thing easier said than done. )
Why are we so advised to keep an open mind? The ability to (at least temporarily) suspend our own ideas and beliefs is critical to really listening to what another person is saying. There is little room to pour something new or different into a cup that is already full. Unless we think we already know all there is to know then the full cup of a closed mind is probably not our wisest choice in life.
Where we "stand" on an issue colors and filters everything that flows in and out of that position and creates numerous "blind spots." In order to see the whole picture, we need cultivate an "open mind" state of mind and look as favorably upon the other side of the coin as the side we chose to"stand on" and have adopted as our own. We do this because we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, but also because we hope to continue to learn and to grow within ourselves.
Once we take a stand, there should be small surprise if our subsequent experiences hold small potential to be life-changing. We have succeeded in limiting them to a narrowed context before we even embark on our journeys . It appears to an observer that our lifelong quest is really a search for certainty, a degree of security. We do not really wish to have an open mind as much as to solidify aspects of what we already believe to be true.
In the same blog, a reader echoes the assertion that open-mindedness to different ideas is over-rated by responding, "To wedge them in would do violence to our narrative of faith and compromise the character of the story. "
Where does Truth enter in? To associate the search for Truth with violence merely incites fear and perpetuates ignorance. How solid is the foundation of faith that it cannot sustain inquiry or investigation?
And what of Trust? Do we have so little in our God and/or our fellow beings that we cannot suspend our own beliefs long enough to give favorable consideration to those of another? There are two sides to every coin. The world might be a better place if we could all learn to see both sides, with an open mind.
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