Some Thoughts on the Term Open-Minded
Open-minded really means like-minded. This is something that becomes clear after one has adjusted to and survived within varying cultures with different value systems. If you ask anyone about their own values, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone that defines herself or himself as close-minded. That is to say, we all like to think that we're open-minded. Even in what some would call fascist and repressive cultures, the people within those spheres probably wouldn't define themselves as close-minded. They'd more likely say that they are enlightened or living life by the correct, true or virtuous rules. Self proclaimed liberals would change the lingo, but essentially the argument is about values. Whose values are more important? Whose values are higher up on the scale? Whose values are right?
Moving from Los Angeles to San Francisco has been a sort of wake-up call to the whole concept of open-mindedness. There's nothing really open-minded about being open-minded. Because in defining oneself as open-minded, one is already creating a hierarchy of values. There are the close-minded people and then there's us-- the open-minded ones. This us is a closed community, that excludes many people from different places, with different ideas, and different values. By being exclusive in definition, the seeming community that is us is really no one. Because an open-minded community wouldn't be exclusive and hierachical. An open-minded community wouldn't tout itself as superior to another.
In this sense, the whole concept of open-mindedness is defunct and lame. The idea of open-mindedness should really be subsumed by an idea of survival. Could you get by in the enemy camp? Would you be open enough to try walking in the other's shoes for more than a minute? Or, how difficult would it be to make a judgment after having experience, instead of frothing nonsense at the mouth in a knee jerk reaction? Something like that would be truly impressive, and not open-minded at all.