Do You Even Know What “Open-Minded” Is?

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I make no secret of my political ideals, and I don’t block friends for their beliefs unless their posts appear in groups of three or more multiple times a day, every day, but I’m not open-minded. I’m the furthest thing from open-minded.

Today, most of us are encouraged to, “be open-minded,” a term likely coined by drugged out hippies in the 70’s, but maybe being open-minded isn’t a good thing; maybe we don’t even really know what it means to be truly open-minded.

I should rephrase a prior statement: I am open-minded in the classic sense, but not open-minded in the way most of those I encounter want me to be.

Most people think that being open-minded means you believe in marriage equality for gay men and women or refraining from offensive language or refusing to comment on something because of my privilege or believing that a law should be passed demanding every woman earn as much as a man (any man) with the same position description.

I’m not. I’m proud that I’m not. If you unfollow or unfriend me on Facebook or Twitter or whatever you use, you are not open-minded either.

Being open-minded means that you have beliefs and are willing to grant others the dignity of having their beliefs for reasons they deem reasonable. If you are open-minded, you should be readily willing to disagree with someone and debate them. If you are open-minded, you should study opposing opinions in-depth so that you can find new ways to discuss topics.

For example: this little thing happening in Oregon.

I’m in higher ed (technically but unwillingly), so the vast majority of my friends posted something along the lines of –

When a black teenager walks around with a toy gun, he is shot. When white men with assault weapons take over a building, the news doesn’t report about it

If I watched the news, which I advocate against but am exposed to via social media channels anyway, I’d be inclined to agree.

Of course, those same people seem to forget the Blank Panthers protesting with assault weapons in Texas in favor of open-carry as a means to protect black lives, chanting “fuck the police,” and starting a #WeWillShootBack hashtag. No one was killed. They protested without a single shot fired.

That news probably wasn’t even on my “open-minded” friends’ radars, because it’s not what they’ve been trained to look for. The narrative is, only white men can have guns, and so we decide to comment on that narrative as if it’s true. The problem is, it’s not.

If you claim to be open-minded, stop blocking people. Separate “information” from “philosophy” from “opinion” from “stump speaking.” You can be wrong, maybe not about the principle behind your stance, but the effectiveness of the stance itself.

You don’t need to change your opinion; just test your opinion regularly, refine it and debate with others respectfully. That is what it means to be open-minded.