So the other day someone made a comment to me that kind of took me off guard. He said he was surprised that I was so open-minded about a particular issue that we were talking about. I wasn’t sure if I should be offended that he assumed I was going to be close-minded or pleased that he found me otherwise. Either way, it got me thinking about this “virtue” of open-mindedness that Post-Modern Society values so highly.
I actually don’t consider myself to be open minded in general. In the same way that I don’t walk around with my mouth hanging open for fear of what bugs would fly into it, I also don’t walk around with my mind wide open to whatever ideology or impressions might be flying through the culture at the time. I am the guardian of my mind. I control what thoughts and impressions and images I allow in. And I control what thoughts are allowed to say and find a home in there too. In the same way that I don’t want to ingest any bugs, I don’t want to mentally consume garbage either. So no, I don’t normally have an open-mind per say.
“We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23
But what I DO is to carefully consider things before I keep or reject them. I call this my inner “Thrift Shopper”. I love thrift shopping. I love digging through cardboard boxes and racks of random clothing. I love finding the treasure among the trash. I love seeing something where others see nothing. All these thrifting-skills are life-skills that I apply when I meet someone new or come across a new idea. I look carefully into each person- as far as they will allow me to look in– and I search for the diamond in the rough. When I meet a new person, I am genuinely looking for something to like in them. One of my favorite things is seeing potential in someone and waiting around long enough to watch them actually achieve that potential. That’s really exciting to me.
When I am thrift shopping, I have a standard that I measure everything against. First of all, I have a color pallet that I prefer. I will most likely not choose anything orange or yellow or pink. Those are colors that I don’t really like and they don’t go with anything else in my closet or my house. The stuff I’m interested in needs to GO WITH what I already HAVE. In the same way, when I come across a new idea I’m going to measure it by a standard that I have already evaluated in my mind and heart. I have a certain moral sense derived from the Bible and my Judeo-Christian upbringing, and new ideas get filtered through these old ideas. I’m not going to redecorate my entire living room just to accomodate a new orange vase any more than I’m going to throw out my entire moral code just to accomodate the latest cultural fad. The new ideas must GO WITH what I already HAVE.
So when someone calls me open-minded with a tone of surprise in their voice, I’m really not sure how to handle that. Is it a compliment or an insult? Because I am really only as open minded as a thrift store shopper- looking for the diamond in the rough- but I reject a lot of useless junk in the process.
So what do you think? Is being open minded a good thing or a bad thing?