Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Are Closed Minds Best for American?

Are Closed Minds Best for America?

We are a passionate people. Passion can be good, but unbridled passion needs to be tempered. Apathy never got anyone anywhere. But a relentless, closed minded passion can also become a great weakness, a powerful and crippling deficiency that goes misunderstood, or worse, unacknowledged by those who are drained by it.
One can be certain of their beliefs and still be wise enough to explore opposing beliefs. We can often find truth and ideas we have not considered by honestly considering opposing ideas and positions. The exact opposite is true if we only consider opinions that match our own views. Yet, this seems to be exactly what many citizens choose to do. How can a closed minded population be what is best for America?
Believing what is said on MSNBC or FOX News without even checking the facts leads to this closed mindedness. Imagine that we don’t even bother to check the facts. A disturbing question arises when considering our choice of news sources. Do we choose our source because our own beliefs, prejudices ad opinions are supported by a particular news program or talk radio show?
To a large degree, we have become a closed-minded citizenry and a polarized society. There has always been a majority and minority group in congress. For hundreds of years opposing political parties have managed to compromise and work together to pass legislation that the serving president would sign. Today, we seem to be moving into a new type of congress; one where the majority party and the minority party simply demand ‘my way or the highway’.

Congressional gridlock is one of the casualties of our closed-minds. Surely, most beliefs and opinions are not so perfect that improvement is impossible. Reasonable people can differ and can compromise. Can any relationship succeed without compromise? Imagine a marriage without compromise. Two people joined for life would have to have the exact same beliefs throughout the duration of a lifetime. (Yes, I know that most marriages do not last a lifetime. I suspect part of the problem may be a lack of compromise).
Before we can even consider compromise, we must be willing to listen with the intent of learning. Most of us only hesitate to speak until the other party finishes describing their beliefs. In other words, we are polite and do not interrupt, but instead of listening we are formulating our reply[1].
Hot button topics like illegal immigration and the Affordable Care Act bring out the worst in us. Just using the phrases ‘illegal immigration’ and the ‘Affordable Care Act’ are enough to set some people off. They insist we must use the phrases ‘illegal alien’ and ‘Obamacare’ when explaining our opinions[2].  How can we be open-minded if the use of a simple phrase or term creates such hostility? I am not writing about curse words or racist words. Everyday words and phrases should not cause such anger.
Closed minds are not in our nation’s best interest. In fact, the free exchange of ideas is a building block of our freedom. We cannot have an exchange of ideas with closed minds. This does not mean we must surrender our principles or that our ideas are wrong. It simply means that we honestly try to understand another viewpoint and consider how our ideas and opinion can merge with ideas and opinions that we don’t necessarily like.





[1] I have been guilty of this and worsening matters by rolling my eyes.
[2] Oddly, many of these same people object to being criticized for being politically incorrect and suggest that pushing a person to speak a certain way is un-American.