With an open mind, your eyes are opened to see the possibilities and mysteries that this world contains. Unfortunately, there are so many in this world that go through life colorblind. Not only can those colorblind people barely register shades of gray but they are also unable to see the beautiful varieties of color that exist in this world. For that, I pity them.
I remember seeing Jesus Camp, a documentary that is basically about Bible camp and fundamentalist Christians (a.k.a Christian dominionists. Look it up; it's freaking scary). The parents were saying how they weren't brainwashing their kids and that it was the kid's choice. I thought of those kids like a fish in a fish tank. These parents put them in this fake, controlled, little bubble (or to fit the analogy, fish tank). It's like they then painted the fish tank black. Maybe the kids think it's their choice but is it really your choice when you don't have any other options? It's like asking this fish what their favorite color is. They would say black of course, because they don't know that any other colors exist. They aren't coerced but they still are not given a choice in the manner. They are molded into this one thing and they can't see any other way. That, to me, is the saddest thing in the world.
A few weeks ago, this girl at my lunch table was going on a rant about Obama and how this country went to shit when he became President. I responded to her rant, trying to make her see reason. I understand that going forward with a narrow-minded, passionately held view would not be helpful so I tried to give in a little with her viewpoint while contrasting it with a more objective viewpoint.
Yet it scared me how sure she was of what she was saying and how she adamantly refused to see the ambiguity of the situation. Telling from the arguments she was presenting and the vagueness of them, I knew that her thoughts were not her own. I asked her if she got her information from Fox News or from her parents.
"My parents," she answered.
"Don't you look at the sources for this?"
"My parents do."
"Do you look at the sources?"
"Don't you believe in your parents? I guess that's why you're an atheist."
This lead to a whole other discussion about religion, which I will not include for the sake of relevancy.
This doesn't just relate to religion, though (even though religion does teach one a way of thinking that carries on to other aspects of life. Almost all of the religious people I've met have emotionally based reasoning on just about everything else in their lives besides God and religion). Yes, I am an atheist, but that's really only a small aspect of who I am; it only relates to the bigger picture that is my skepticism/ love of the truth and my secular humanist beliefs.
Religion and politics are two different completely things and the only thing that connects them are how taboo it is to bring either of them up while in company with another person. She was right about one thing, though. They both reveal how you approach general conversation, your outlook on life and so on. It's pretty obvious to see who is open to the opinions of others and can be talked to and who is mired by their own ardent beliefs in such discussions.
I included the above conversation because I think it shows the effects of close-mindedness and why exactly people are close-minded. So many close-minded people have had their beliefs so drilled in their head (by parent, news source and other influences) that they cannot see past it.
An open mind is, in my opinion, a critical thing to have in this world. Without the ability to have an open mind, one is rendered unable to comprehend anyone else's opinion and therefore unable to compromise with them. I also think it allows you to closely examine each and every viewpoint without bias. That, of course, is beneficial because it allows you not to get sucked into things so easily.
An open mind allows you to see the various nuances and complexities on a subject. This is especially important when approaching a complicated subject. When you approach a complex topic with a simpleminded viewpoint, it only makes you look ridiculous and your opinions are rendered invalid and unworthy of discussion.
By seeing these various viewpoints and perspectives, you are given a greater understanding of your fellow peers and of yourself even. For example, I was just having a conversation with a friend on a certain teacher of ours. This teacher is generally dismissed as mean and too strict by most students. However, by analyzing his behaviors and trying to see things from his perspective, it is easy to see that what he is doing what he does not out of malice but with the intention of benefiting us and that he is trying to do his job in the most effective way possible.
Narrow-minded people live life without truly tasting its flavors or even ever fully understanding the people that they interact with. That, to me, is terrible. Not only is their behavior terrible to them but terrible to the world. These are the people who start wars, disown their children and get brainwashed by persons of power (e.g. dictators, pedophile priests, parents). By failing to be open to other possibilities and the possibility that your belief is wrong, you are doing a disservice not only to yourself but to others.
Overall, an open mind is the only way to approach the world. It is easy to fall prey to this kind of thinking but to do so will help no one.
I challenge all readers to open their eyes and not to just accept a belief without examining the other. You might be surprised with what you'll find.