It seems simple and obvious but in practice and reality it is sometimes hard to find or carry out.
In a world polarized by politics and religion it can be hard to keep an open mind. Having an open mind does not mean that you have to agree with whomever or whatever you’re talking about.
What an open mind does is keep one from potentially making a knee-jerk statement or action that could cause or escalate conflict between the person he/she is talking to and oneself.
An open mind also opens up a higher understanding of the world around you that otherwise might not have known.
Instead of building a wall around your head and remaining ignorant, breaking down that psychological barrier can help you understand yourself and others.
A simple instance of this would be a person becoming offended by something.
Before retaliating, that person should ask himself or herself a couple of questions. Why am I offended? Is there something they know I’m not aware of? Just the act of conscientiously asking these questions helps put the brakes on a potential knee-jerk remark opening up the situation for understanding.
What’s it like to be a blue collar worker? What’s it like to be a Muslim? What’s it like being a single pregnant mother?
Condemning a person to stupidity because of a disagreement with them is incredibly close minded. This is something that is seen in people with a fundamentalist mentality.
This willful ignorance and refusal to understand or respect other’s beliefs and culture is the perfect fuel for extreme conflict.
An example of closed minded religious followers would be the Taliban blowing up the 1700 year old Buddha statues in the Bamiyan province of Afghanistan.
They were the tallest known examples of a standing Buddha, but the Taliban declared them false idols and destroyed an irreplaceable part of world history.
The conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland used to be a subject of great pain. Divided, Catholics wanted independence while Protestants wanted British rule.
Fighting between the two escalated in the 1970s, 80s and 90s with the Catholic IRA terrorist group and Protestant paramilitary carrying out acts of war against each other.
None of these groups would be making the headlines they do if they had open minds and moved beyond their own indifferences.