To consider oneself open-minded is often seen as a badge of honour.
If someone takes a new idea and accepts the concept, it’s considered open-minded. If someone agrees and shows willing to debate their view, it’s considered open-minded. If someone treads into dialogue on a topic they do not understand, without agenda or expectation, it’s considered open-minded.
But thats really only half of what being open-minded is about.
I consider that generally I am an open-minded person, but not naive enough to believe myself to be a completely transparent individual. I have biases, I have views, I have beliefs and I have values just like everyone else, and occasionally, through personality traits all part of human nature, i’m open-minded until I won’t agree with someone else’s view, without justification, but simply due to my own inner code and for a reason I might not be able to explain.
“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it” Terry Pratchett.
I’m becoming increasingly concerned with the paradox in our society. Right wing versus left wing, right versus wrong, opinion versus fact. I’m concerned that we’re entering an age where being open-minded is becoming both a sword and a shield, albeit, through selective, often arrogant and ignorant application.
I’m often seeing cases of “you aren’t open-minded because you won’t engage with my narrow-minded view” type attitudes and not just from the more unsavoury sides of the debate. I also hear people ‘respecting other people’s views’ when they don’t, not really. They listen to it, understand it and move on without engaging – often dismissing the viewpoint without contemplating personally as to why they’ve chosen to do that.
Surely, to be truly open-minded, it’s about not just listening to the view of others, but by genuinely being prepared to be wrong, to change your opinion or flex your view if pursuaded to do so, without worrying about saving face, and protecting ego. It has to be about being mature enough to accept that this is normal, that its empowering, and that its human. Having an open-mind has to be about having one, not just telling others that you have one.
To be truly open-minded, in any context, both personally and professionally, we must encourage the eradication of fear of enlightenment, not just fear of disagreement. And it has to be about being open-minded most of the time, and not just when it suits.