The Dangers of an Open Mind… you heard me.

By: Janouka

Right now, in the western world, anything goes. Believe whatever you want, think whatever you want, define your own truths. You are truth, and that is all that’s true. No certainty, no rules. But since we are renouncing all certainty… is even that true? The renouncing of one thing is the accepting of another. Even if what you’re accepting is to abstain from accepting any one thing. So still we say: you think what you think, I’ll think what I think, because there is no right or wrong anymore. It sounds great, and its gotta be better then warring about things like religion. But does it really help us? We’ve started to be too accepting, too inclusive, and too “free”. Don’t get your back up, hear me out.

I am a post-modern child, I don’t deny it. I love it. I agree that (for the most part) truth is constantly evolving. I think there are few, if any, things we can know for sure. There is evidence for and against every argument, and physical reality is no longer a doctrine. There is a great liberation in the realization that there are simply things we cannot know. The problem with this is that in its infiniteness, it is limiting. By recognizing the fragmentation and uncertainty of this world and this life, we have relinquished the activity of true conversation. By entering into an interaction of any sort, with the idea that whatever the other person is going to say, is their belief and it doesn’t concern you, sets you up for a conversation that doesn’t involve a real yearning for understanding. Allowing for missing pieces in one’s personal manifesto is a necessity, because there are many things that are unknown. But it is not an excuse admitting us from asking questions, challenging, or being challenged. Believing that you may never know absolute truth is not an excuse for not searching for it. By elevating ourselves as individuals, we lose the ability for community. We must acknowledge the difference between tolerance and understanding, and aim first at understanding. “Just as iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another.” (proverbs)

How many times have you been in a group and heard someone say “I don’t talk about religion or politics”, or see someone back away from a conversation that might get the least bit controversial? I see it all the time and it makes me itchy. No one wants to over step, no one wants to offend. I’m not saying we should speak with the intention of offending, but should we really be hiding what we think out of fear that someone is going to disagree and we may actually have to try and explain ourselves?

We have lost the desire to communicate. In this whole “you believe what you believe, I’ll believe what I believe” society we’ve created, we’ve wiped out real dialogue. No longer do we feel the need to explain, express, or expose our beliefs, ideas, or truths. We are the most adamantly inarticulate generation, and we need to start speaking with intention.

I support the freedom that comes hand-in-hand with post-modernism, but I don’t support the segregation. We are no loner segregating by means of religion, culture, or other collectives, but we are segregating individually. We are all allowed to be as open-minded as our minds will stretch… so long as we do it in our own back yards.

We need to start opening our minds up even further. Not just accepting that we are all free-thinkers and “to each their own”. That’s all well and good, and a great progression from traditional ways of thinking, but let’s not stop here. We need to start talking, start testing, and start learning from each other. And real, true, open listening, not debating: conversing and understanding. We have to regain conviction, we have to start advocating for what we believe to be true, but all the while being open to the possibility that our truths can change. If we don’t start really speaking to each other, we are going to drown in our own thoughts and become stagnant. Growth is a result of struggle. It’s not enough to be questioning authority; we have to start speaking with it too.


3 Comments on “The Dangers of an Open Mind… you heard me.”

  1. mulletkoop says:

    Well said. This reminds me of a favorite quote that I have on my fridge – 'When the spine of identity is well established it is possible to risk relating in depth to those who are different than self'. It takes real courage to say what you think in an 'anything goes' world but the risk is worth it because we can learn so much from each other.

  2. Janouka says:

    I really like that quote.
    And I agree, risky business is good business. Thanks for the feedback.

  3. konastephen says:

    Interesting post—is our Pyrrhronian suspension of judgment merely a pyrrhic victory for a stale form of freedom? Does our limitlessness limit us? I tend to agree that it does. When you said, “We’ve started to be too accepting, too inclusive, and too ‘free’” I immediately thought of Modest Mouse singing ‘these good times are killing me…’.

    While I agree with your epistemic humility, it still seems to me that you espouse a much more modern perspective than a postmodern one. What appears lacking is a liberation from self liberation—a grounding outside the self. Now perhaps this is exactly what you mean by engaging in conversation, but this leaves us still with our collective mind of the people you accuse of being without conviction. Perhaps a historical humility would ground our ‘constantly evolving’ truth. What I’m suggesting is that to become more open we should not only listen and converse with others around us but those from the past. Your bias against tradition is paradigmatic of modern progress. Why can’t we open our minds further to listen to the ‘democracy of the dead’? But instead of letting the wisdom and proverbs of the past judge us, we stand in judgment of them—picking and choosing the rules and ways that make our lives easy, satiating our every whim (in our own backyards

    But you are still right. It is better to not back down from the conversation, to stand up and speak one’s views on religion and politics, while others cower from the fray. But it is especially easy to risk being controversial when one has thrown off one’s tradition and taken on a hyper-modern mode of life. It is in vogue to preach a gospel of tolerance and openness. So, for instance, it is easy to converse about faith, sex, and politics when one has forsaken one’s confessional Christianity for a cheap substitute—one predicated on a amorphous notion of love and faithfulness. One where only the parts of the bible that jive with our day and age are heard and acknowledged.
    So for instance, if you were a Christian, and you stood up in consonance with the men and women of that tradition throughout time, then I’d be amazed. It would be bold in an age of hyper tolerance to love others while at the same time verbally disagreeing with them—to say that I believe ‘x’ is wrong but I love you nonetheless. But we hypermodern children only say no to no. We only disagree with people we see as narrow and bigoted to our Enlightened, free selves…

    In my view, you rightly see the problems and contradictions to the state of our world, but your solution still doesn’t go far enough.

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