Thank you to My Reader for participating in my recent very short poll. Though the poll opportunistically took its beat from Brexit and Boris’s Election victory, it really was a very blunt inquiry into how politically open-minded folk are these days. And, not surprisingly, the statistically non-valid sample of Ericle subscribers indicated that they are not.
For the sake of good order and interest, the poll revealed that 77% of The Ericle’s UK-based readers are metrocentric S.E England Remainers and that all but 1 of them (The Ericle, himself) would not vote differently if there was to be another Referendum, today. Ok, this could be explained away for any number of reasons, but I still find this to be an incredible statistic.
On the key question as to whether, if Boris did a ‘good’ job, respondents would ‘be prepared’ to vote Conservative in the next election, 71% said that they would not. I realise that this was a flawed question, as I do not know how many of the 29%, who are prepared to vote Conservative, did so in the last election – and presumably, some did. I also have regrets that my question didn’t say ‘if Boris did an excellent job, would you consider voting Conservative’. However, this notwithstanding, it does suggest strongly, how unprepared people are to change their mind regardless of the facts of a given situation.
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines Open-Mindedness as: “the quality of being willing to consider ideas and opinions that are new or different to your own.” I find it logically difficult to conceive that any reasonable person would admit not to be Open-Minded, as per this definition. Well, it would be illogical; tantamount to a claim that we could never be wrong about anything. Add into this mindset, the empirical evidence that some others clearly don’t agree with one’s own opinions then we have the basis for the current toxic climate where opinions are so unmovably polarised and, even worse, are unexpressed for fear of being ostracised.
Was this always, so? Certainly, in my life-time lived in the UK, this did not feel to be the case. In fact, the presence of deeply held convictions, accompanied by a reluctance to become involved in political discourse, are often descriptors to times of political turmoil and/or extremism; certainly from the perspective of the science of International Relations, of which I am a graduate. Or perhaps, there has been a paradigm shift caused by the social media algorithm of the ‘like-minded’; such that the ego is presented with the self -reinforcing viewpoint that distils itself in the mind of the beholder as being an ‘objective truth’. In any case, it’s a worrying state-of-affairs.
The issue of why close-minded people claim to the contrary, popped up in my inbox this week in the form of an email from the Farnham Street Learning Community, whose newsletter I have recently subscribed to. It poses the question as to why: “closed-minded people would never consider that they could actually be closed-minded” and claims that it’s “in fact, their perceived open-mindedness which is so dangerous.” They carry on to suggest that the ‘I’m not close-minded’ phenomenon is a reverse example of Batesian Mimicry, whereby according to Wikipedia: “a harmless species has evolved to imitate the warning signals of a harmful species directed at a predator of them both” and that this is very dangerous – in some cases, even, life-threatening.
This post, as I originally conceived it, was going to reach some conclusions from my poll that highlighted the impotence of being a card-carrying life-member of single political clubs and ideas. And if that’s all you want to hear on this subject, feel free to end reading here.
However, as I have been writing this piece, it has become apparent that there more fundamental human truths at stake that impact on how well we, as individuals and social animals, use our limited time on this pebble. From Operation Mediation, another blog that I occasionally dip into, here are eight benefits of living with an open mind:
Benefit #1: Your world flourishes. It’s like only being able to see black and white and suddenly realizing that many shades of colour exist. Your pallet is expanded from only having two possibilities to now having hundreds of options. Your selection is more plentiful and you’re not so boxed in with minimal selections.
Benefit #2: You free your mind from limiting thoughts. Nothing holds you back more than thinking you know the answers so you never consider other alternatives. When you admit that there are several possible solutions or outcomes, you allow yourself to think beyond the boundaries where you normally would have stopped yourself.
Benefit #3: That’s when change happens. You have to change your thoughts and beliefs before you can expect your behaviors and actions to change. Most people try to do it the other way, modifying their behaviors in an effort to change, only to find it doesn’t work. True change happens from the inside out.
Benefit #4: You have more fun. You’re willing to try new, exciting things. You let go of whatever has held you back in the past and begin to embrace life. You experiment with different things and have more experiences.
Benefit #5: It’s easier to find solutions to problems. If you’re willing to consider the notion that there are many effective ways to deal with an issue, you open yourself to more options when you’re trying to problem solve. You don’t get stuck trying the same thing over and over again just because you can’t think of something else.
Benefit #6: You have a greater ability to love and be loved. When you let go of passing judgment, you’re allowing yourself to have deeper, more meaningful relationships. You give and accept love more freely because you’re not so concerned with drawing conclusions about people. You accept them for who they are.
Benefit #7: You have a higher tolerance level. You have greater patience with others. You’re open to the fact that they may have a valid reason for behaving or feeling the way they do instead of just determining that they’re ‘wrong.’
Benefit #8: You have more energy. When you aren’t so bogged down by negative thoughts and trying to figure everyone and everything out, you have more energy to focus on the important things in life, such as family, friends and good health.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for indulging me on this subject. I hope that you have found the last few minutes, reading this, to have been time well spent.