The other day someone said something about a particular author and said that person was not very open-minded. I thought to myself what does that term really mean. There seems to be several different ways people use this term. Within a family, it’s oftentimes used towards a parent when they don’t let a child, typically a teenager, do something they want to do. Among friends or high school buddies, it used to mean live and let live. If someone wants to put a ring in their nose or a large hole in their ear and fill it with a disc, don’t judge them. Don’t get excited over their oddities or particularities, they are just trying to express themselves.
Among advocacy groups and much of the media the term open-mindedness seems to be used to describe someone who advocate rights for everyone to do pretty much any thing they can conceptualize. It is used for people who believe in endless experimentation of social policy and of values no matter what the costs, results or consequences are of that experimentation. Rank emotionalism and shallow euphemisms about rights and social justice at the expense of freedom of conscience and moral responsibility are the highest expressions of this concept of open-mindedness.
This open-mindedness as promoted means to believe in everything but really nothing at all. It encourages a valueless material culture of supposedly a “cool” non-committal aloofness that many young people dedicate their youth to.
The irony of this concept of open-mindedness is it cannot be successfully put into practice on any level because all relationships are about power and who gets to define the do’s and dont’s of that relationship. No relationship or organization of relationships can be expected to last very long where everybody gets to do their own thing. Power cannot be exercised and enforced without some control or order in place because there are negative consequences and negative costs to a relationship with no boundaries or false boundaries, especially over the long-term.
Marriages, families, business, churches, states, and nations fail or succeed based on someone or some groups definition what is good or bad. The key to defining good or bad is the basis for the definition. Are the definitions based on truths, half-truths, experimentation, mass opinion, ignorance, or lies? And to me this gets to what I believe the true definition of open-mindedness is.
Practical and functional open-mindedness is the willingness to believe truth exists independent of us, to search it out and seek understanding of it over your lifetime, and when you find truth to incorporate in your life and not make a mess of it. In a sense this definition of open-mindedness is akin to wisdom, a wisdom based on honesty, integrity, freedom, responsibility, love and righteousness combined with reason. Wisdom is not solely reliant on reason because emotion oftentimes trumps reason, this is why so many secular-based social programs fail because they are in the end literally closed-minded, limited by human reasoning’s ability to see all consequences, see into a person’s heart, and limited by human reasoning ability to see very far into the future. And where reasoning fails, then blind emotionalism kicks in.
Righteousness is ultimately based on incorporating into one’s life, divine inspiration and revelation that ultimately speaks to the heart and the mind. True open-mindedness is the ability to recognize and accept help or aid from a higher power in combination with pexisting efforts and reasoning at gaining knowledge. It is the ability to act on all truth whether it be spiritual, empirical or both, no matter its source.