Staying open-minded

Image: Thong Vo

We don’t stay open-minded by chance

My friend Geoffrey Baines wrote this in a recent post of his:

It seems we must stay open-minded to have any mind at all.

It was a good reminder.

It’s hard to know objectively whether we are open-minded of course, but to be aware of our need to always remain open to the new and the different is a good starting point.

There is a practical question with this too. What can we do to try and ensure we stay open-minded?

I have far from arrived at mastering being open-minded, but I thought I’d share a few of the things I try to intentionally do.

This includes reading from multiple sources. It’s easy, for example, to only read the newspaper that most closely aligns with the political perspective we already have. The danger is that we move into a bubble where it soon becomes harder and harder to even fathom how someone could see things differently.

I try to counteract this by regularly reading all the major broadsheet newspapers: The Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, and The Independent. But I’m not afraid to dip into articles in The Sun, The Mirror, and the Daily Mail either. It’s not that I like them all – often I vehemently disagree – but I want to be fully aware of what people in our country are reading. And it’s not about mocking and showing disdain for what is sometimes horrible journalism, it’s about trying to understand where other people are coming from and trying to appreciate how they can have such a different point of view.

Not just politics

It’s not just politics that this applies to. Religion is another area where we have to work hard to remain open-minded. And this works both ways.

Those with strong beliefs in the divine mustn’t ever let that blind them to the discoveries in the realm of science. But neither must atheists assume that the entirety of knowledge can be captured and explained by science. I want to remain open to discovery from what both science and religion can reveal.

Choice not chance

The main point I want to make here though is that staying open-minded is a choice; it won’t happen by chance. We have to decide to resist the bubble. It’s far more comfortable to surround ourselves with people who see things the same way we do, but to be open-minded we need to welcome people and perspectives from outside of life’s natural bubble.

I have much to learn still about remaining open-minded, but I’m determined to keep trying. As Geoffrey says, staying open-minded is the only way to have any mind at all.

Back to reality

Drawing inspiration from the Olympics