Openmindedness

Being openminded means accepting all sorts of different people, of all sorts of different backgrounds, having all sorts of different tastes, with all sorts of different opinions.

Being openminded means being okay with people around oneself that disagree on a few major ideas, as long as the two agree on the most central and important points, and still working on them in the directions of what one does agree on.

Being openminded means having an enormous personal Overton window. No, not large. Enormous.

Being openminded means understanding rejecting a view after discussion is not narrowmindedness; prejudice on a view is.

Being openminded means not assuming, when one hears someone say something, that the reason they say that is because they have certain underlying beliefs, just because another person who says the same things happens to have those underlying beliefs.

Being openminded means “I wonder why they think that way.” comes before “That’s a ridiculous belief.”. It doesn’t mean “That’s a ridiculous belief.” never comes. It means it’s not the first thing.

Being openminded means acknowledging that a slight difference in two people’s fundamental principles could lead to drastically different conclusions, and entertaining the possibility that the cause of a vast difference in view could be a tiny nuance in ideas.

Being openminded means recognizing that over the course of history, a massive number of ideas considered unthinkable or insane at some point by some society eventually becomes a mainstream view.

Being openminded means recognizing that it can be socially detrimental or emotionally devastating to someone when they express unpopular views.

Being openminded means understanding that when a view is deemed unacceptable, it is extremely difficult to try to share and discuss such a view. Being openminded means understanding these forces could prevent discussion that could convince someone with a deemed-unacceptable view to consider otherwise.

Being openminded means acknowledging that the public centroid of opinion could be a very bad idea. Being openminded also means considering that someone at the centroid of opinion might not have arrived there via conventional means.

Being openminded means understanding that just because a view is popular globally does not mean it is hard to express within a certain community. Being openminded means recognizing that using the excuse that such a view is not in an oppressed state because of how many people globally have that view does not help, and may convince them that it’s just that much easier on themselves to go associate with the more welcoming global community instead, making them stronger and increasing polarization, itself increasing the difficulty of openminded discussion.

Being openminded means accepting that within the vast volumes of knowledge and facts about the world, it could certainly be the case that what one does not know could change one’s evaluation of an issue, and that someone that disagrees may be about to fill a vacancy in one’s knowledge.

Being openminded means asking oneself “Why?” in response to something being considered unacceptable. It doesn’t mean asserting it should be accepted. It doesn’t even mean believing it must be defended. It just means making sure one has questioned the social authority, and arrived at a personal informed and thought-through judgment.

Being openminded means having some level of tolerance for narrowmindedness.

Being openminded means being open about the possibility that what one sees as narrowmindedness may possibly be the result of something else.

Being openminded does not mean one has a duty to be considerate to upfront violence. After all, once someone is killed, one doesn’t have so much a mind here to make open. (Or at least, to entertain unlikely possibilities, one doesn’t have the sort of mind that can helpfully interact with the other minds of the world, which is the important point.)

But, being openminded does mean being open to the nonviolent discussion of violence, for questioning whether and when violence has merit, for questioning if peace is unconditionally preferable. And in general, being openminded is remembering the difference between an action itself and the discussion of that action.

And this brings us to an important distinction: being openminded means being open to the possibility that someone is expressing a view but will not follow through on it due to acknowledging and accepting the current societal deeming of that view.

This having been said, being openminded does not require that one is willing to listen to everything. And here’s why.

Although, as stated above, one should avoid assuming what the motivation and principles underlying someone else’s words and actions are, if discussion is to begin, there exists some necessity for people with a more nuanced viewpoint to prioritize making explicit the nuance. Why? Because humans have a finite amount of time in their lives, and it is natural to run out of energy and time to continue a discussion. Particularly if there’s an argument one needs to have with multiple people, it could be really tiring and jading to have to go through them. Note that the more unpopular an opinion is, the more likely they are to have had to experience in their life defending the same viewpoint over and over again. Some issues revolve around problems that directly affect people. It could be emotionally painful for them to have to defend their position. It’s very likely that defending a position is emotionally draining; it certainly will be terribly emotionally draining if they have to repeatedly defend it.

There is also something to be said about trolling. Most people do not like to have to argue. If someone is willing to partake in a discussion to compare values and principles, and correspondingly to be openminded to the diversity of viewpoints, the respectful thing to do as another party in such a discussion is to take the discussion sincerely. It is absolutely acceptable to immediately decline discussion with someone who’s clearly a troll, or has a reputation for trolling. Openmindedness also means having plenty of consideration before labeling someone as a troll, but with people who for instance like to brag about how angry they have managed to make others, it is not narrowminded to say that one is absolutely unwilling to listen to them; there wasn’t a sincere viewpoint to be openminded to there, anyway.

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