The vast majority of people in the world think of themselves as open-minded, but how many actually are? Is there a way to know? Can we measure it?
Well, hilariously, ANY parameter or gauge to measure “openness” automatically forces a stalemate. This is what I mean: If I say, “racist people are not open minded”, then that makes me close-minded in a different way. And if I say, “bigots are close minded”, then that makes me a bigot among bigots!
You might not agree, and that proves my point.
Like this, declaring what is open-minded and what is not, catches us in a sort of quicksand! The more we say, the deeper the trap! The more “open” we declare to be, the more closed we actually become. It’s a cynical trap … *insert evil laugh here –> “MWAHAHA!”*
So then, how in the heck are we supposed to understand if someone is “open”? Can it be measured?
That is a trick question – and I’ll tell you why.
Openness, like everything else in the world, expresses itself based on how things are in that moment. So, obviously, since life is a moving target, how open we are should match what the situation calls for. If it calls for a boundary to be set against coloring on the walls, then don’t be “open-minded”, definitely set that boundary. If calls to speak out when you know the facts are wrong, then by all means, speak out.
This is why close-mindedness is actually a necessity. We need close-mindedness to thrive! otherwise jumping off a cliff might sound like a pretty sweet idea. And maybe it is! Who knows? (A bungee cord might make the jump more agreeable… 😂🤔).
Crazily, the reason we don’t get along isn’t because we have differences in ideas, it’s because we don’t know when to be tolerant, of these ideas. Very few of us have the sensitivity to know what each situation needs. And that makes all the difference. I’ll say it again, we must be sensitive life to know what life needs.
*with a sense of being defeated*
How then do we strike a balance? What can we do to remain integritous?
We can be open.
And this is what it means to be open: you are willing to drop ANY ONE of your thoughts, opinions or beliefs as the situation calls for it. I want you to imagine your thoughts, opinions, and beliefs like they are tools that you can use, retract, detach, employ, and engage the whole world. We need not be so deeply identified with our faith, our prejudices, or political views. We can use them as needed in church, at a meeting, or at a social gathering and leave the rest of the tools at home. To be “open” is wield our thoughts, opinions and beliefs as infinitely flexible tools to craft our life and our dreams as we see fit.
Just to wrap this up: this might seem so small, but even as I write this, I am practicing openness by deleting, taking down and rewriting entire paragraphs to fit what I understand needs to be said. It is so hard for me, for even as something as small as to parting with a well said paragraph or even a perfect sentence – it’s such a hard thing to do.
But perhaps, what helps the most is that I am committed. I am committed to truly sharing this value inherent in me – this value in seeing that life is forever dancing and that we should learn to dance with it; that life is forever here, ever present, and ever wanting to be danced with. Be sensitive to her, she will show how to dance.