Open Mindedness Doesn’t Exist July 5, 2007Posted by erichaynes in General, Spiritual Journey, Stories of MyLife.
Having watched and participated in a discussion about the truth of the Bible on another blog, I was struck about how both sides of any issue demand that the other side be more “open minded.” And what is funny is that both sides claim that they are being open minded. What the hell is “being open minded” then?
The reality is that a blog that is going to open up a can of worms like the validity of the Bible attracts combatants like a moth to a flame. One guy writes an opinion about the circular logic of validating the Bible. A couple of people read it, let’s say, a Christian and an atheist. The Christian thinks to himself, “this poor, backwards guy is far from God, flinging out his uneducated blather into the world. I need to help set him straight before he spreads his discontent, AND I think I can help him see the light and become a Christian.” The atheist on the other hand is cheering on his “brother in arms” over his logical and unerring thinking and adds a little of his own thoughts and opinions to the comment stream. The Christian now sees that another atheist has joined the discussion and suddenly panics, feeling outnumbered and outwitted. He let’s some other Christians know that he’s got a loose cannon out in the cyber-world and could use some help. The atheist supporter then sees that the author is being bombarded by Christians infiltrators to an otherwise un-Christian blogsite, so posts the discussion on various blog-boards to let other atheists know that there is a battle brewing. Suddenly, there is all-out war and the battle cries are ringing out across the web, and the blog hits 200 comments in a few hours and is the most viewed blogsite of the day. The war is on!
But virtually none of these people come to the discussion with an open mind as defined by their opposing “enemy”.
No one is going to be converted on this day, whether to Christianity or to atheism. If anything, they become more entrenched in their own thinking, flexing their respective muscles and exercising their arguments. They may become better debaters, or they may go away wounded and resolve to never engage those “idiots” on the other side of the discussion ever again. Either way, at the end of the day, no one wins and everyone loses.
So I propose we give up this false notion that “being open minded” is even possible. Let’s recognize that each of us carries a set of values and beliefs based on our own learning, our own experiences, our own emotions, and our own ignorance. Essentially, we are a product of our life story, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. Therefore, the only way to enter into these discussions is to recognize that I am a product of my life, and the other people there are a product of their lives, and that the only way the discussion has merit is when we begin to explore WHY and HOW we’ve come to believe what we believe. This is of far greater consequence than WHAT we believe. However, it is also a vulnerable and revealing place to discuss, and most people, nearly every person, is absolutely terrified to go there. They have worked too hard to push the pains, hurts, and betrayals out of their lives. It is far safer to stay in the WHAT war.
And we say the war in Iraq is purposeless…