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  • Writer's pictureD. Randall Faro

Open Is Good

Open mindedness is a willingness to try new things or to hear and consider new ideas, while close mindedness is an unwillingness to consider different or new ideas. There are varying degrees, of course, ranging from an attempted middle-of-the-teetertotter position to the extremes of either mindset, but people are going to lean one way or the other. Which way do you want to lean? Alternatively stated, which leaning contributes to well-being both personally and for society?

Extremes are end-of-the-bell-curve positions. Close minded: Don’t even talk to me if you’re not going to affirm what I believe and know is right. Open minded: Hey, anything goes; whatever you think or want, go for it. Both attitudes invite abuse or calamity. But a reasonable embrace of open mindedness is the far better option.

A staunch but-we’ve-always-done-it-that-way mentality stifles progress. If everyone had refused to re-think the situation, women in the U.S. would still not be able to vote, or the economy could still benefit from slavery (at least the slaveholders). Living with an open mind certainly doesn’t sanction any and everything, but it allows for advances that the closed mind would keep buried deep underground.

In 1985 I participated in a group discussion with young, white Afrikaners in Johannesburg, South Africa who had been raised in a cultural milieu of absolute white superiority over any and all native black Africans. The young men were open, questioning, exploring, and re-thinking the blatant racism of apartheid. As an open mindedness grew across the nation to the fallacy and destructive nature of racism, it led to the freedom which black South Africans experience today.

Are there things I need to be more open minded about . . . issues, philosophies, or beliefs at which I need to at least take a new look? Doing so can be a life-changing experience, both for me personally and for the world in which we all live.

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