When we say we’re open-minded, are we?
Being open-minded is an esteemed attribute in our culture right now, and it’s being claimed by many. But are we accurate with our claims?
I’m just glad I work somewhere with people who are open-minded. I mean, I don’t think anyone I work with is a __________.
Yes, I firmly believe that and no one can convince me otherwise, but I’m willing to listen…
All you have to do is look at my friends or family, and you’ll see how open-minded I am.
All _____________ are judgmental. I’m glad I’m not like them.
I have personally heard each of these statements recently.
If open-minded means you’re willing to consider anything, I doubt any of us are completely open-minded. We have limits. We see our own boundaries as reasonable but others’ as limited or too unreliable. We’re all judgmental about some things.
Have you ever noticed an “open” sign is often on a closed door?
Just as our culture exalts open-mindedness, it condemns judgementalism. But since we can agree all of us have both (and have limits within each), perhaps our main issue is in how we are defining each.
Open-minded doesn’t mean you will accept anything. That would be foolish. It means a willingness to consider new ideas. The expanded definition also includes the word unprejudiced, which I’m not sure any of us can claim for the simple fact that our experiences form some prejudices. Yet an open mind certainly is aware of prejudices and is willing to reshape them.
To judge something is unavoidable. There is a difference between judgments with wisdom and judgments with arrogance. We make judgments every time we make a decision. Being judgmental is something else: it involves a critical approach. Criticism can be a negative and harmful thing, but critical thinking is essential to everyday life. Let’s not call someone judgmental who is respectfully and humbly attempting to work through the critical thinking process.
Be open-minded about your own open-mindedness, your own prejudices, your own judgments and criticisms. Perhaps then you will be a bit more patient and respectful to others.