"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Thomas Jefferson
Sept. 23, 1800

Monday, December 31, 2012

O Is For.......Open Minded

I've been waiting for "O" to come around for quite a while. Finally, my chance to rant!!! My son asked me a while ago if there were any words I hated so much that I would delete them from our language. I think "open minded" is actually two words, more of a phrase, but I hate it with a rare and burning passion. I don't dislike the concept, the definition of "open minded," one bit. What I really hate is the way it gets used by the people who bandy it about, particularly those who use it to describe themselves.

Open mindedness should mean an openness to new ideas, to opinions different from your own, a knowledge that wisdom begins with knowing how little one actually knows. There are some people who actually are open minded, by that definition, and I'm lucky to have a few as very close friends. This isn't about you. The world could use more people who genuinely seek knowledge. These people almost never use the term, though, and I don't think I've ever heard one of these friends of mine use it to describe him/herself.

The people who do use it don't mean that at all. What they mean by open minded is people who agree with them. Vary from their chosen point of view (which tends toward the "progressive" more often than not and not rarely includes one or more bizarre theories about such things as vaccinations or fluoride in the water or the Illuminati) ) and you better look out. The very worst thing you can do socially is to publicly disagree with people who say they are open minded. If you do, they will assume you are ignorant, bigoted, overly ideological or just plain stupid. See, these folks consider themselves to be open minded. Therefore, the opinions they hold are the result of their open minded consideration of all the facts and therefore are the only valid opinions one could possibly hold. They refuse to accept that they may not have all the facts, or may have tidbits of information that aren't really factual. Their minds are not open to that idea. So, if you disagree, you are, by their logic, either not privy to all the facts (ignorant), purposefully ignoring the facts that led them to their conclusion (bigoted or ideological) or mentally unable to process the facts you do have in an intelligent manner (stupid.) Their minds are completely closed to the possibility that anyone could possibly look at the same facts and come to a fair, intelligent opinion that differs from theirs. It is senseless to argue with these people, it's best to just agree with them. Don't worry, it'll never occur to them you are being condescending. They will gladly take your agreement as proof they are right and have chosen well the people they hang with.

On the other hand, there are those who are so open minded that their brains fell out. Open minded doesn't mean believing everything you hear. It means considering it. Some things, after consideration, are pure bullshit.  Some things are wrong. Some things are hurtful or mean or evil. Being open minded shouldn't be an excuse to be intellectually lazy. That makes me think of another term, one that just happens to start with a "P"......

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