What does it mean to be open-minded?
Dictionary.com tells us that to be open minded means “having or showing a mind receptive to new ideas or arguments.”
Synonyms include unbiased, unbigoted, unprejudiced, tolerant, easy-going, impartial, flexible, broad minded, approachable, observant, interested, accepting, perceptive, impartial, rational, objective, humane, and even enlightened. (Can you hear the angels singing?) These words all describe positive character traits. Would anyone disagree? Most people would probably like to believe that they themselves indeed possess and demonstrate these ideals.
If you hear yourself frequently telling other people, “I’m an open-minded person.” You may not actually be. Are you really open-minded? Or, is it possible that YOU are the only one who thinks so. Here’s a question. How do you feel about the following three words: Progressive. Liberal. Revolutionary. Are you getting twitchy and uncomfortable? Do these words evoke a negative response? What variety of people come to mind as you see these words on the page? Do you have the same warm fuzzy feelings that you have when you hear the word ENLIGHTENED?
Before your test, let’s begin with a quick and educational tutorial. Believe it or not, the words progressive, liberal, and revolutionary are synonymous with open-minded. Don’t believe me? Not feeling open minded it? Already losing your tolerant, easy-going attitude? There’s no time like the present to jump into your test.
This test begins with a suggestion:
Please consider using your power as a woman, or as a man who loves women, to make a statement with you vote. VOTE FEMALE.
Yes, vote for women. There are so many good reasons why. There are numerous excellent women stepping forward to hold public office. For example, Wendy Davis is an amazing and capable candidate for governor of Texas. (Despite all the absurd attempts to smear her reputation.) The same goes for Hilary Clinton as a presidential candidate. And wouldn’t it be amazing if Condoleezza Rice threw her name in that hat too? Any of these women would make a great governor or president!
So, you say you are open-minded? All right, then, let’s find out.
Test Question #1.
What was your initial gut reaction to the suggestion made above to vote for Hilary, Condoleezza and Wendy?
After all, it’s only you sitting quietly alone reading this; you can’t lie to yourself, right? (…Well, I guess you can… many of us do… but…)
So… what was your reaction?
Was it a deep guttural “Awwww hell no!”
Perhaps it was subtler, “Yeah, no, I don’t think so.”
Or did you run away screaming?
Yes, it’s true. Some folks probably already quit reading.
(…aaaaah, yes, indeed… now THAT’S open-minded! Not!)
Or, do you love the idea?
Just for the record, if you are not still reading, you have failed this little test of open-mindedness. You are most likely NOT open-minded. Hmmmm. This does present a problem though, because YOU still don’t know it. You are still out there walking around out there believing that you are open-minded. And, you are probably spewing all over the rest of us as to how open-minded you are. That’s just icky! Yuck. Kinda reminds me of my 8th grade social studies who had really bad cigarette and coffee breath but he never knew it… but I digress.
Okay, so… clearly, only the truly curious will survive this test…
If you are still reading, heck, yeah! Give yourself a pat on the back because you just MIGHT be open-minded. Or at the very least, you might not be a misogynistic pig.
I think we are off to a good start!
The fact that you are still reading (and hopefully answering honestly) earns you a D+ thus far on this test. Yup, your response to the first question doesn’t matter.
Yes, you get a D+ just for reading!
This test is so easy right? Already passing!
All rightie then! Next test question.
Have you ever voted for a candidate that was outside the norm of how you usually vote? This question applies regardless of the group or “party” you normally associate yourself with, registered or not.
So, for example,
Republicans, have you ever voted for a Democrat or an Independent?
Democrats, have you ever voted Republican or Green Party?
Independents, have you ever voted for anyone other than Ralph Nader?
The rules for grading yourself on this question are a simple YES or NO.
Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades; that is not what we are playing here. You don’t get any points for saying, “Well, I almost voted for so-and-so, but… blah blah blah…” Yes or no. You either have voted outside your party affilaition or you have not. Period! There is no in-between.
If the answer is YES, I applaud you. You just bumped yourself up from a D+ to a C on this little test. If the answer is NO, you are now looking at a D minus on the top of your paper. If you already stopped reading, you might have bad breath and not even know it.
Moving right along!
Do you think Barack Obama is a good president?
A) Somewhat. I think he is an okay guy. He is trying hard and he has accomplished some good things despite many forces working against him.
B) Yes! He is totally awesome!
C) I didn’t vote for him and I definitely think he is hurting our country.
D) No. He sucks. He should be impeached. I hate him. I have often secretly wished he would die before the end of his term.
It is time to evaluate your initial reaction. Which of the following statements most closely matches your gut response to the suggestion to vote for women: Choose A, B, C or D.
A) Heck yeah! It’s way past time in our country for women to be elected to high government positions. The United States is way behind the rest of the world in this area. Women make great leaders, providing insight and an ability to compromise and work together with opponents to reach good solutions. There should absolutely be an equal balance of men and women as elected officials. Yes! Yes! Yes!
B) Hmmm. I’m not really sure. Where are you going with this article? What is this silly test anyway? I don’t know for whom I am going to vote just yet. Please don’t rush me! I am still seeking more information from multiple reliable, unbiased news sources (i.e. Reuters, non-profit news sources, NPR, BBC, PolitiFact, and the Pew Research Center) in order to make the right decision.
C) Aww, hell no. No way. Never. Not gonna do it. This article is clearly some liberal, green, independent, socialist bogus, conspiracy bullshit. I see right through this charade. But, I’ll keep reading just to see where it goes.
D) I quit reading. I have bad breath and the only friends I have are narrow-minded dimwits.
Okay, moving right along! Here’s how to grade your answer.
If you chose A or B, your have earned an A on your open-mindedness test.
If you chose C, you have earned a C.
If you chose D, you have also earned a C. (Yes a “C” and thanks for coming back, I just knew you weren’t a quitter! By the way, you might want to cut back on those cigarettes.)
And now for the best part!
The BONUS question.
True or False:
Fox news is a reliable source of unbiased news. It is is indeed fair AND balanced.
Bump yourself up a full letter grade if you answered FALSE! Good for you for knowing, without a doubt, that Fox news is NOT full of facts and unbiased information. You probably already knew that over 75% of Fox news’ audience is registered republicans.
If you answered TRUE, no bonus points for you. Sorry.
Well? How did you do on this test of open-mindedness?
If you earned anything above a B minus, you are most likely a legitimately open-minded person.
And for those of you who have earned a C, do not despair. You too can one day become the President of the United States.
– AFTER WORDS THAT OPEN MINDED PEOPLE SHOULD READ –
QUOTES THAT INSPIRED THIS ARTICLE:
“How can a person be open-minded about politics, willing to listen to reason and facts, and always come down on the same side of the issue on everything down the line from the economy to equal rights?
Most of us imagine that thinking impartially is fairly easy. Not so.
It requires an ability to acknowledge the views that we are attached to, as well as the willingness to be triply careful about dismissing arguments that might rub our cherished positions the wrong way.”
“A democracy requires a capacity to tolerate cognitive dissonance, a little inner tension. In an age of intense advocacy journalism, it has become all too easy to repress awareness of anything that might give rise to doubt.”
“Facts don’t matter much in an election anymore because everyone has a favorite pundit to re-interpret the facts.”
“When self-identified conservatives hear something that rattles their political views, he or she flips on the No-Spin Zone to re-spin the troubling ideas — and when I encounter some suggestion that goes against my grain, I click on MSNBC and am reassured that something or other is all a right-wing conspiracy. Before both of us know it, there is nothing left to think about — or, rather, we are again free to hold our positions undisturbed by any of the subtleties of the situation and withillusion that we are both open-minded.”
…The BONUS Section…
(This is like a secret track on a record!)
If you disagree with the ideas in this column… please think about it a little bit longer.
I did. I used to think differently. But I took the time to listen. Ask yourself what you believe to be true, and then ask yourself why you believe those things.
Has the propaganda gotten to you too? Have you ever considered that as a possibility? Are you conditioned to thinking and believing only what you wish to hear? Is everything you believe simply a self-fulfilling prophecy of politics?
It is increasingly easy to find articles, websites, “news sources” and other people to verify that everything we believe is true. While we may have the best intentions, our conviction in our beliefs might simply be a false sense of confidence, a fallacious feeling of knowledge and a self-delusional sense of security.
If you are an open-minded person, you know that there is NO perfect candidate. There never will be.
You also know there are no perfect voters.
The closest we can come to even getting good at it is to seek new information and knowledge. We can listen. We can learn.
And then, of course, there are the voters who truly believe that they are open-minded… but then they vote the same way they always have.
Think about it.
Take the opportunity to protect your rights as a woman.
Thank you for reading.
YOUR VOTE MATTERS!
p.s. If you earned a C or a D on this test, the rest of us really wish you would just stay home on election day.