Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Open-Minded




According to the Encarta English Dictionary, to be open-minded means to be “free from prejudice and receptive to new ideas.”  Hello.  Why is this so difficult for some people?  Why, in a country that was founded on the principle that everyone should enjoy such basic freedoms as speech, religion, work, opinions, etc., are there so many people who harbor hatred and disgust toward others who are different in dress, lifestyle, religion, or ancestry?  How can some purport to abide by our country’s basic philosophies when they work so hard to deny others their own rights and freedoms?

What happens when we don’t allow ourselves to be open-minded?  We lose our perspective in life, art, and our communities. 

When we refuse to accept new ideas from others who hail from diverse backgrounds, we close ourselves off to new experiences.  It is these new and different experiences that help us form a better, more complete, view of the world around us.  Learning how other people view the world helps us to better understand why they operate the way they do.  And when we understand what makes people tick, we are better equipped for working together for the common good.

Having an open mind helps us develop an enhanced appreciation for art, which in turn gives us a more complete view of the world.  The beauty of art is its ability to subject its audience to a variety of experiences.  Some experiences may be familiar while others may be completely unique or even unheard of prior to the artistic encounter.  Either way, art enriches our lives by providing a better, all-encompassing look at the beauty, and sometimes tragedy, of life.

Not your thing? It's OK.

Having an open mind also means letting people live their lives as they wish.  You want to get a tattoo?  Go ahead.  Dye your hair purple?  Why not?  Marry someone of the same sex?  Go ahead.  Speak Spanish or German or French or Jibberish in your home or place of business?  No problem.  As long as these things don’t hurt someone else or infringe on others' rights, what difference does it make?  Just because someone chooses to do something different from the norm doesn’t make it wrong.  It may be wrong for YOU, but you have the freedom to make that choice.  You wouldn’t want someone to take your freedom of choice away from you, would you?

Have you ever had an experience where you felt others were judging you because of your differences?  Have you had to learn how to accept a different viewpoint, culture, or belief system?  How did you handle the situation?

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