STOP Being Closed-Minded!
Updated: Sep 16
Are you truly open-minded? Let's find out.
Society seems to be more divided than ever. For instance, if you were to have watched both national conventions recently, you would think that each group is from a different universe! Each believes that if the other political party wins, it’s going to be the end of the world. Sadly, if this division and divisiveness doesn’t go in a different direction soon, that may be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Sides are so opposed that many refuse to even listen to what the other has to say. Their minds are made up. "Those people" don't know what they're talking about. "Those people" shouldn't exist. "Those people" are a lost cause. But what if they're not. What if we all moved away from an us/them mentality and recognized that we're all in this TOGETHER.
We're All A Bit Bias
When it comes to the news, unless you were literally born yesterday, you’re going to be a bit bias. We have to understand that the way in which the news is portrayed, a specific spin will be played by specific outlets, so unless you’re intentionally watching all the channels covering a specific topic, you’re going to think the other side has been brainwashed, which, if we’re honest, in a way, all of us have been.
Aristotle once wrote, "It's the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
Here's the problem: every single person believes they are right.
And this makes sense considering that each person has experienced a unique set of circumstances that has led them to believe what they believe. And those experiences are absolutely valid. Where the problem comes in is when a person is closed-minded and doesn’t recognize—or refuses to accept—that other people’s experiences are just as valid and that it’s possible that if you were to actually listen to another person’s perspective with an open-mind, you might actually change yours.
But to do so, you have to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
There's a verse in the book of Hebrews. Verse 13:3 - Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, look on victims of abuse as if what happened to them had happened to you, see those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. This verse goes well with a poem I wrote:
Someone Else's Shoes
How many different pairs of shoes do you have and don’t wear?
To the rest of the world, how do you think your shoes compare?
How do they feel? Are they comfortable, or tattered and worn?
More than you’d think, the answer depends on where you were born
If you’re one of the fortunate few—you will have many
But the truth of the matter is…many don’t have any
How do you think it feels to have no shelter for your feet?
How long could you survive on the street, with no food to eat?
Although these thoughts are not pleasant, they mustn’t be ignored
For you’ll find a thing of beauty, when such thoughts are explored
It’s the art of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes
A path to empathy, gratitude, and renewed values
If you care for others, and want that concern to be shown
It’s time for you to put on someone’s shoes besides your own
How open are you to hearing other peoples' perspectives?
Have you ever thought you were sure about something and then later changed your mind?
How often do you honestly try to put yourself is someone else's shoes?
It’s easy to assume we know what a person is going through, but that’s just a guess. You can’t really know unless you actually ask them. Let them tell you what it’s like. Hear their voice. Listen to their pain. And then imagine what it’s like.
My challenge to you this week is to open your mind and be willing to listen to those with whom you disagree? Ask them questions, BE CURIOUS, and thank them for sharing. And this part might be extremely hard for you, possibly seemingly impossible, but only share your thoughts on the topic if they ask you to. The goal isn’t for you to change their mind or for them to change yours. The goal is to put yourself is someone else’s shoes.