Protests. We see them. We discuss them. Some of us even participate. The world seems to have fallen into a state of dis-contentedness, as the rise of the outspoken individual or group takes center stage in our modern politics. The true phenomena however, isn’t the high number of people exercising their right to free speech. The phenomena is the effect that open expression is having on practitioners and spectators alike.
We like to think of ourselves as open-minded, no matter how askew or jaded our perception may be. Though there are undoubtedly some whose action is pure – other’s have taken the idea of open-mindedness, and used it as a form of discrimination all their own.
They double down on their beliefs, regardless of what additional information may be received, and ostracized those who oppose them. This ironically causes the opposition to react in the same way.
The once steadfast and just cause, can now take the form of a close-minded prejudice. This effectively leaves all persons involved defensive, angry, and striving to prove themselves as valid. This is commonly referred to as the backfire effect.
We’re not born to be open-minded.
Doctor Saul Levine of Psychology Today believes that this developed bias may stem from our internal desire of strictly positive and agreeable information. Levine states that –
“…This Denial is akin to Stephen Colbert’s “Truthiness,” in that these deniers adamantly refuse to accept verified scientific facts because they get in the way of their own rigid ideas”.
Every individual wants to believe or hold something to be true. At that time there is still a sane and rational response to added information, and therefore an ability to alter an opinion.
It’s when we forge an emotional connection with the idea or belief, that logic is no longer a factor. The goal is to be right, despite what information may be learned.
When this happens the individual in question is no longer fighting for a just cause, but rather for their ego, stability, and their personal understanding of truth. This in turn causes them, to close themselves off from anything that may stand to the contrary, creating an endless cycle of misappropriated frustration and a general stagnancy in mental and emotional growth -i.e. close-minded thinking.
But this doesn’t mean we can’t become open-minded.
When we allow this to happen to ourselves, not only does it harm our personal growth, but also hinders the education of, and willingness of others to see an opposing point of view.
Once emotions are brought into a rational dispute, the feud tends to become displaced from a field of reason to an ego, and self-propelled motive.
If we can stop ourselves before getting carried to this point – we may have a chance to not only have our voices heard, but hear others as well, and possibly gain some insights on why there is such a hostile disagreement in the first place.
There is no solution to an argument once you refuse to accept the entirety of it. We should – at the very least – attempt to understand and reconcile our ideas with that of the opposing side.
At the very least, a tad bit of sympathy, can open the door to a conversation that can truly lead to a solution.
Be willing to step outside of yourself, and you will be granted the gift of understanding.
So before you glue together your picket sign, run to Twitter to complain, or rant for hours to an agreeing friend, keep in mind-
- You can’t solve a problem, without fully understanding it.
- Ego can get in the way of what’s right or just.
- Not everyone is an enemy, they may just be misinformed.
- Sympathy, will win you an ear. Vindication, will cost you a voice.
It’s great to be right, it’s okay to be wrong, it’s best to understand and to be understood.
Be calm, and truthful in your endeavors. Be open to the opinions of others.
Stay out of your own way, and allow reason to intervene when your emotions begin to pry.
Become truly open-minded.
|Lifehacker: We’re Not as Open-Minded As We Think We Are
|Psychology Today: The Denial of Reality
|Operation Mediation: 8 Benefits of Having an Open Mind and How to Get One
|WikiHow: How to Be Open Minded