Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Popular Concept of Open-Mindedness is Flawed

A few weeks ago, I got obsessed with the concept of open-mindedness and this was because I was in situations and conversations, that required me to be 'open minded', nonjudgemental and receptive to people's different truth. It was a great test but as I explored and trained my mind to be more open minded I began to wonder if there was a limit and if yes! What was it? I mean, to what extent does one stay open minded? Does open-mindedness require you take everything? Does it mean to have no filter? No boundaries? Does been nonjudgemental mean you 'fit in'? Where is the stopping point?

The more I thought about it, the more obsessed I became and so of cause, I kept thinking about it - and doing surveys - until I found for myself (Lord, Thank you for blessing me with an amazing analytical mind), an answer that felt right (Mind you! This is my opinion). With this answer, I concluded that the 'general perception of open-mindedness' is flawed. Here's why.

First of all, let's define open mindedness.
I asked a few friends what open mindedness meant to them and most of them responded by referring me to the Zen Story of a cup of Tea. And so it seemed that open-mindedness is likened to being open to new ideas/opinions, being open/receptive to learning, not necessarily having a filter but coming like a child, always open to learning, not holding your opinions and beliefs as truth but willing to accept the opinions and beliefs of others (if they argue well enough. Lol). This is correct, even Wikipedia says open-mindedness is receptiveness to new ideas.

This is also where I think the concept of open-mindedness is flawed because I believe there should be a limit of some sort to how receptive we are to new ideas and opinions due to how gullible and credulous the mind can be.

Yes! The mind is gullible, it easily bends to what it is continuously exposed to. What you watch, read and hear forms the content of your mind, produces your thought pattern and ultimately forms who you are (as a man thinketh, so he is). This is clearly seen in babies. They come into the world blank, open, and ready to take in, and oh! Take in they do. With No filter, no experience or lessons to look back to, they take in everything they see or hear.

Apostle Pauls advises in Rom 12:2 that we should constantly renew our mind so we can be transformed by God's word lest we would conform to the things of the world. It other words, Focus on God's word so your mind and thoughts do not get filled with the things of the world because once you pay much attention to those things, you would naturally conform. 

And so when we are advised to be receptive to new ideas and opinions, it is an advice that puts our minds at risk. Because if what we are being told makes sense, If it sounds logically correct and the other person knows how to put forth a great argument, then it would be easy to convince our minds to pick the new information and call it truth.

This bothered me a lot. I began to think, does this mean that I should stay closed minded? Do not partake conversations that are contradictory to what I currently know? {Yes! In business, being receptive to new creative ideas is highly advised (I advise it too)}, but when it comes to our belief systems ... That gave me a pause.  If I stay closed minded in an attempt to protect my mind (Prov 4:23 CEB - More than anything you guard, protect your mind, for life flows from it), then how do I learn? How do I grow?.

This new set of questions, drove me into another round of obsession but as usual, if you diligently seek light (knowledge), you would find it (James 1:5 - If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking).

So Anyway, I realized that a great way to stay open-minded (receptive and willing to new ideas/opinions) is to develop a backdrop for your mind, a foundation that acts as a filter to which all new ideas have to pass through before they settle in. This way, while you still listen to and engage in open-minded conversations, read various kind of books et al, you would always have a filter that every information has to pass through and 'fight with'.

I recommend no other filter that the Word of God - (lol, for the atheists and non-believers, I guess you would have to figure out for yourself your core beliefs and stick with them otherwise, you'd be continually tossed back and forth, left and right by every new opinion you hear, by motivational/inspirational messages, and by logically sound ideas).

It's great to be open minded, that's the only way to learn, but you have got to protect your mind and ensure that it doesn't mess with your beliefs. It's important to love your truth, but to live your truth, you have to first discover what your truth is and always leaning to what you read in motivational or what not books wouldn't help.

Now, I understand that just because one is open-minded doesn't mean they accept any idea the minute it is presented to them. It's expedient that you always consider thoughtfully or evaluate new ideas and beliefs before you accept them as true but my issue is this: The more you are exposed to an idea or opinion, the more likely you are to accept it. The more eloquent the person selling the idea to you is and the more motivational/inspirational and logically sound an idea is, greatly increases the likelihood of its acceptability. Thus, without you consciously developing and using your filter, the more gullible (albeit subtle) you would become.


I'd love to hear your thoughts. Do share with me by commenting. Gracias!

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