Open-mindedness is one of the things I treasure most in others, and a trait I am happy with myself on having.
Every day I watch as people ignore this concept. It surprises me that people can even be close-minded. Just to clear things up, the open-mindedness I speak of is not naive, “I will believe anything you tell me”, open-mindedness, but rather the ability to accept that others believe as they do, and that it’s okay for them to do so.
Earlier in my blog, I felt like I had been beating a dead horse on this one, but I realized I haven’t taken a trip to the horse cemetery in awhile, so I think it’s time to touch on it again, so let’s touch on the religion and non-religion debate again. Religious people are often the first to be brought up on charges of being close-minded. Now, unfortunately this is often a well fitting label. That being said, there are a lot of religious people who are not close-minded, but are instead very open.
Now I am not talking about openness to changing their beliefs. Though this may be true of some of them, it is not generally the case. People stand by their beliefs, and that’s perfectly fine. I certainly stand by mine. What the problem stems from is when people see something they disagree with, for example: homosexuality, using foul language, or some other “sinful” practice.
What happens next is usually one of a few things. The person who disagrees with the action either A) Ignores it, and goes about their business, B)Ignores it at the time but then goes home and rants about it to everyone they can find who will listen, C) Confronts those that are committing the act, and asks them to stop, often rudely. D) Respectfully opens dialogue with those that are committing the act, and has a logical and well thought out discussion, where the offended party states their case, but leaves their offenders to make their own choices, and respects the fact that they mat continue to perform the action, regardless of the offended party’s wishes. E) Begins Dialogue respectfully, but begins to argue with the other side, and is in a constant effort to prove the other side wrong. F) Responds with violence.
Now, religion is certainly not the only thing capable of producing this scenario. Often people in the scientific community have issues with things that are not proven science, and react in similar ways. Or certainly with politics! Politics are perhaps the best example, for it is very prominent in this country especially, to find situations like this occuring based off of political reasons.
Now which of these are proper responses? There are two responses that are almost always appropriate responses, though there are exceptions. Both options A and D work great usually, and there are perhaps times when some of the others are still worthwhile options. There is often not much harm in option B, and it can occasionally even be beneficial, though it depends on the rhetoric one uses while they rant. Option C. . . well, it can be okay, if for instance, you see someone about to do something illegal, and you are trying to stop them, though I find option D to still be a better option in those cases. Option E? Option E should never occur, because every time you could use option E, you can use option D, and option D is much better. Option F would only be a valid option if you were trying to stop something like a murder, or a rape. It is only an option when a victim is involved. It is unfortunate how often it is used against those that are not criminals, that are not tyrants or oppressors.
Option D represents open-mindedness, and so does option A. Open-mindedness, in my definition, is the ability to hear or see another way of looking at things, and not feel the need to change it to match your own. It is the willingness to accept that their are other perspectives than your own, and that the way those perspectives see the world, are no more wrong for that person than your perspective is for you.
You have been through a lot. So has everyone else. You came out differently. So did everyone else. Now, understand that and move on, and if you are willing to listen to those other perspectives, you might even learn something. You might be able to expand your understanding, because you had never thought of it in that way. Don’t hold yourself back from learning, just because you are afraid you might learn something.