What is open mindedness?

I think being “open minded” is thrown around a lot in conversation but there isn’t really a standard for what is meant by it.

I thought I would share my take on it.

Some people treat it like open mindedness means you have to surrender your previous opinions, notions, to be malleable to the opinions and wills of others. As though the only way you can treat another person with respect, when you have a differing opinion, is to sacrifice your own opinions and take theirs as your new truth.

Others treat open mindedness as a character flaw. Believing that by having a willingness to engage in open conversations with others whose opinions you don’t subscribe to, that you automatically lack discernment and are making yourself vulnerable. That you must be impressionable and that any previous convictions you have must be flexible.

I frequently see people who subscribe to an agnostic, or atheistic belief, assume that those who have a faith, or affiliate themselves with an identity of a faith or religion, must be “closed minded” as though it’s a forgone conclusion that it is not possible to have an “open minded” respectful conversation containing understanding and the discussion of different perspectives and opinions, with those who affiliate to a structured deity centred belief system. Then vice versa, people seem to frequently assume that regardless of a person’s faith, or insert another arbitrary factor that can cause personal bias or come with similar trends of opinion; must invalidate a person’s ability to be “open minded” in conversation.

Personally, I find this really hypocritical.

To assume that another person’s perspective “closes” their mind to respectful, educational, conversations; while simultaneously closing your mind to their opinions and perspective as though their thoughts and opinions are of a lesser value just because you have fundamental differences of opinion.

Why can’t we just respect that it is possible to appreciate open conversation.

That we can have opinions set in stone because they are fundamental to who we are as a person. Yet have the ability to discuss different opinions and rationale, endeavouring to understanding their perspective, even if we have no intentions of changing our opinions.

Why can’t we just enjoy sharing knowledge and understanding. If our shared opinions and rational help the each other make a more informed choice later in life great. If not, if we simply just understand why another person’s thinks a certain way or has a certain rational, great. Knowledge is power.

We can adapt and change, and grow as people. We can learn about the nuances of different peoples and their characters. We can modify our approach to adapt to others understandings and needs.

To be open minded, doesn’t mean you have to be fickle of character changing to the opinions and whims of others.

It simply means you won’t allow your own biases, opinions and perspectives, from stopping you from getting the most out of a conversation. That you can be respectful and learn from other people. It’s about humility and a desire to learn.

Well at least in my opinion.

I hope that doesn’t make me closed-minded.

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