It's 11 p.m. You're on Facebook, scrolling through your newsfeed before bed. Between BuzzFeed quizzes, memes, engagement announcements, and ultrasound photos, you come across an article written by whom you assume is the most closed-minded person on the planet. You "friend" who shared the article, captioned the share with, "Agreed!" along with the typical emojis used to signal approval.
You scoff. You think to yourself, "Wow, I'm glad I'm such an open-minded individual." You fall to sleep with the smug satisfaction of how good of a person you are.
Of course not; NO ONE scrolls past BuzzFeed quizzes (how else will we know what month we'll meet our soulmate if we don't select our favorite types of French cheeses?).
OK so the Buzzfeed quizzes part may not be totally accurate, but the lording-your-tolerance-over-others part may have resonated with you a bit.
I get it. It's an easy way to get your fix of self-confidence.
You may be thinking, "But shouldn't we judge close-minded people if their viewpoints are hurtful to others and/or hinder societal progress?"
I think no.
You see, I think it's possible to become a closed-minded open-minded person.
I think our "open-mindedness" evolves into a facade of tolerance when we choose to only accept what society deems as acceptable for open-minded people to accept (try to say that five times fast). I think by judging closed-minded people (i.e. talking bad about them and/or to them), we are ironically closing off our own minds to differing viewpoints. That is why it's important to listen. Listen to their past experiences.
Listen to why they think the way they do. And if you truly have heard the person out and still disagree with them, then I think it's extremely important to communicate your viewpoint in a polite manner in hopes of helping them reach a better understanding (or at least be able to truly consider an opposing side of an issue).
You see, I think you have to make a conscious choice to be open-minded. I think it's important to encourage people to do so rather than snub them.
Think of it this way: if someone is stumbling around in a dark cave, what do you do? Do you A) leave them be or B) guide them to the light? I hope most of you chose the latter.
Let me attempt to get my point across with yet another analogy.
Say you come across some unbloomed flowers. Is your initial instinct to stomp on them and pelt them with rocks? Or do you desire to nourish them with water so they can bloom and reach their highest potential? OR do you pull out your iPhone and take an artsy picture of them for Instagram?
As you count your Insta likes, think about which of the first two options you'd choose. Obviously, you'd choose to water the flowers.
This is what we must do to the close-minded.
We must guide them to the light. Nourish them so they can grow. We cannot be close-minded about the close-minded. Because, more than likely, we too were once in the dark; we too were once unbloomed.
We are ALL still growing.