I was recently reflecting on one of the many conversations I have had with people, more specifically my family, when I was told that I was too open-minded. This person specifically told me that if I am too open-minded that I will not have any strong ideals or morals to hold onto as I will be easily swayed.
This really bothered me as I was thinking about what it means to be open-minded. When I say that I am open-minded I am not saying that I do not have ideals, beliefs, morals, and even biases that I unconsciously carry with me. To me, this means that I am open to learning about things I do not fully understand, learning someone’s mindset behind an action, and being open to new ideas as things are fluid.
This conversation in particular was about the racial climate in the US and how there is so much unlearning and learning to be done. I can say that growing up, the history I learned in school was not what it should have been. It was one-sided and didn’t go in-depth on the more important topics. The education system was more concerned with us learning the name of every president and the land they conquered rather than learning the ugly truths on how that came to be.
We were taught the KKK was a thing of the past, that the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s was 100% successful and that the US is the best country in the world.
I chose to base part of my higher education around international and global studies and a learned a lot about the US I probably never would have. I learned the origins and reasoning of why we have bananas at our fingertips in the store, the Latin American ban on US meddling, and countless other atrocities that the US has involved themselves in to gain advantage of third world countries.
Those are topics for another day though. Today I just want to reflect on why I choose to have an open-mind. For starters, no matter how educated you may feel on a topic, there is always going to be someone who is smarter than you. A lot of times I see people get into heated discussions on many topics and refuse to hear the other parties points.
Rather than ask to be educated they go with “you’re wrong” and even personally attack them. I wish it would be less attacking and be more “I had no idea about that, can you educate me more on the topic?” Why is it so difficult for people to admit they don’t know everything? Why do close-minded people flock together and attack those willing to learn?
This is just an opinion but I truthfully think it can trace back to Pluto’s Allegory of The Cave. If one person strays from the “norm” and “accepted” way of things EVEN if that is the truth they often become persecuted. Newsflash, many great things come from enlightening yourself on the many truths in the world. It’s so easy to do a little bit of education and take a minute to reflect and listen to someone/ something to see that.
I am not saying to completely abandon your ideals, as the person who sparked this post seems to think, I am just saying be open to learning. We literally have a world of education available at our fingertips if we seek it out. Some of my favorite people in this world have grown up in all different parts of it. The conversations we have had to educate ourselves on each other’s culture, ideals, interests, etc have been amazing.
Growing up, I would never have thought that people who come from all sorts of backgrounds could truly form friendships. This is partially due to growing up in a small town where everyone and their mom knows everyones mom and their mom. You can make any assumption you’d like about that.
Be willing to learn. Be willing to forgive. Be willing to be vulnerable. Be able to accept being wrong. Be willing to educate yourself. Be willing to challenge yourself.