What is Open-Mindedness: On Progress and Truth
As facebook, twitter, and blogs grow and get increasing patronage and readership, they provide more and more opportunity for quality intellectual discussion and growth. They also, however provide more opportunity for unfounded opinions, soap boxing, decisiveness, and polarization.
It is these last issues that I want to speak about. Facebook especially has been increasingly polarizing and dividing the human race as people use it more and more for propaganda to support thier often ill-thought out position. Among this divisiveness is the oft-claimed distinction between those who are "open-minded" vs. those who are "close-minded". I'm here to cast my vote. Who actually is "open minded"?
I find the argument most happens in two sphere's--Politics and Religion-- and the primary problem is the "party's" view about progress. Simply put, "conservative and traditional" citizens and Christians are seen as "closed minded" by their "progressive and liberal" counterparts. Let us examine how much merit this claim holds.
First let me say, I do not claim to be part of either political party--I dislike them both equally. And for the most part I am a "middle of the road" type Christian. But for a more complete view of my political beliefs, and my feelings on partisanship, please read here.
To examine the heart of the problem, let us examine humanity's obsession with progress.
Progress, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. In fact, as part of human's need for self-actualization, progress is a part of human nature. Since the first humans developed farming and stopped their nomadic ways at least 10,000 years ago (in some places), the human civilization has been progressing. Since the enlightenment, progress has been humanity's obsession and primary goal. But what are we progressing towards ?
Dictionary.com's definition of progress is: "Forward...movement toward a destination ". This means that progress for progress' sake is worthless, and perhaps even detrimental. It is unbridled progress. While scientific progress has improved our health and quality of life, and gender progress has come closer to gender equality, are those really what we should be chasing? We cannot "move forward" without progress, but the downfall of every great civilization has been progress that was without direction and which was too rapid.
What then should be our destination?
Books By G.K. Chesterton
Truth: The Final Cause
The Philosopher G.K. Chesterton stated, "merely having an open mind is nothing. The object of opening the mind, of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid." George W. Crane echoes this sentiment when he claims, "you can have such an open mind that it is too porous to hold a conviction".
In my experience, this tends to be the problem with people who call others "closed minded". The fact is that its usually THEM who have not grasped anything solid or fail to have a true conviction. In reality, they need to get their heads out of the postmodern sand. However, maybe they do think they have something solid, maybe they ARE convicted about their belief. What then?
The only legitimate measure of progress is whether or not it brings humanity closer to the Truth. Therefore, our minds must be both open AND closed. They must act like a "progressive sift", keeping in that which serves the truth and letting go of anything that hinders it. Progress is not for ourselves, it is not to make life easier, and it should not be focused on allowing more pleasure with less guilt. The person who is open to an idea that is contradictory to Truth is open minded, and they should be criticized for being so--they are, in fact, close-minded to the Truth.
BOTH democrats and republicans, traditionalists and progressives can be close-minded. So please, before you start throwing around biased, divisive, polarizing accusations, make sure you know you're acting in truth. If you're a true postmodernist, perhaps it would be better to just keep your mouth shut. Also, contrary to popular belief, it is acceptable to NOT have an opinion if you feel you don't have enough information to comment. Such discretion is the TRUE measure of one who is appropriately open-minded.
© 2012 rdlang05