It’s something very appropriate in today’s world. We hear about it a lot with people attacking each other with, “Don’t be closed-minded. Have an Open-Mind.” It’s an ironic situation because most of the people saying that are trying to convince someone of something while refusing to reconsider their own position. What is the good of having an open-mind? What are the foundations for the argument in the first place? What does it mean to be open-minded?
The benefit relies on the premise that we don’t know everything. It relies on the idea that what we have is imperfect and it can be better. There are some cases where that is true and others where it’s the opposite. It becomes a question of whether what this person is saying is reliable. Is the “new” way actually better than the tried and true approach?
Another building block for the argument is lack of trust. It’s a lack of trust of your ancestors. It’s funny because we can find examples popping up where the old wives tales were totally right, and they knew without the science to prove it. A lot of things that are said to be “healthy” are not. Sometimes, in our desperation to fix a problem, we don’t consider everything and cause even more and worse problems.
One situation would be we have too much carbon dioxide in the air, so we need to use fuels that don’t produce it. Oh! Here’s a fuel that doesn’t produce so much carbon dioxide, let’s market it. Then later we find out that it puts worse stuff in the air that lasts longer because at least with carbon dioxide, the trees clean it, but nothing can take care of the new junk right now.
One horrible example that has gone wrong would be the Killer Bees. Genetically modify bees, but ended up taking out something important and now they are murderous and spreading. It is dangerous to focus on only one thing that we neglect how it connects with everything else.
Now I’m not arguing that we should not have an open-mind. We just need to know what it means. It means that we consider and acknowledge the truth in the other opinion, but then we look for where it goes wrong. Having an open-mind does not mean we have to accept the other opinion. The benefit is that it helps us remember what was true in our own courses of action and help us look for the absolute truth. Just because the opposing opinion is different, that doesn’t mean it is right. Perhaps both sides are wrong and we need to reconcile the truths of both parties. Though it is also important to realize that some “truths” are only so when based off a lie.
It’s amazing how much we fear just being considered “closed-minded.” Imagine if life was a delicate flower (because it is). If we are so closed-minded in our attempt to be open-minded, we might expose ourselves to toxic water, because giving only good water would be closed-minded. Just a drop is fatal, but because we want to be “open-minded” we toss common sense. We need to be careful about what we open ourselves up to and consider the wisdom passed down through the ages. Considering that it has lasted ages, there must be some truth in there.