Do you have an open mind? I thought I did, and through the course of my life, I have come across three theories or experiences that challenged my open mindedness. I’m sure there have been others in my lifetime, but these are the biggies that I remember having an effect on me. I hope you have enjoyed this series. I hope it made you question your open mindedness, as I know it made me question mine. Were you able to accept some new possibilities that lay outside of your current belief structure? Be sure to check out part 1, part 2, and part 3 if you haven’t read them yet.
I purposely held my comments until this final post in the series. I wanted to give you time to think about, consider, and analyze the theories presented.
The Open Minded 2nd Grader
As I mentioned in part one, I was not the open minded 2nd grader that decided to draw Jesus without a beard. The experience did open my mind to the fact that we have make decisions for ourselves. Decisions should be based on facts when possible, but what do we do when we don’t have cold hard facts? Well, that class of 2nd graders drew on teachings, spiritual background, and religious norms. But, we left something out. We left out our own creativity, our own thoughts, and our own feelings. Our freethinking!
I had a funny thing happen after posting this article. My mom called me to chat, and said that SHE was my 2nd grade Sunday school teacher. I had completely forgotten that! It seems as though I have purged a great deal of my childhood to make room for new memories and experiences. In the article, I mentioned that I have definite opinions about church and Sunday school. My mom mentioned that she would “be interested in hearing about that.” Well mom, here it is… I feel as if the church required too much blind faith. I feel as though a great many questions were unanswered, and the answer given was just to believe and have faith. I believe that too often, the events of the bible are taught as fact, when we do not and cannot know that this composition of books is entirely factual. That’s it in a nutshell. With great parenting that encouraged freethinking, I have searched out my own path in this world. Rather than just accept what is taught, I seek out answers on my own, and come to my own conclusions based on my own research.
Before I realized that my mother taught that class, I was going to comment on what kind of church based teacher would teach such open mindedness and freethinking to a bunch of 2nd graders. Knowing now that it was my mother, it makes more sense. She has always encouraged freethinking.
A Great Teacher, a Little Philosophy, and a Whole Lot of Love
I had a really hard time with this theory when it was first presented. Just to recap the theory was: “If you love this one person more than everyone else, then why not spend your entire gift giving budget on that one person.” How could I give to only one person in my life. What about everyone else? What would everyone else think? When I got right down to it, the real question was “What would everyone else think about me?” How would one pass on this new found idea, and not hurt a lot of feelings? As Jon mentioned in the comments, he would have to “run for cover” after telling his kids. We would all likely have to run for cover when telling all of our loved ones that only one of them would be getting a gift this year. And on top of that, the one that gets a gift is loved more than everyone else.
This brings up another question, as Patty mentioned in the comments. Can we really love one person more than anyone else? I must admit, this made me ponder the question. Does love come in degrees? The question reminds me of the Spider-Man movie, where Spider-Man must choose to save a tram car full of people or his love, Mary-Jane. What if instead of the tram car, it was his Aunt May, and he had to choose between Aunt May and Mary-Jane. How would he choose? Would he do it based on who he loves more? Well, it’s a movie, so of course he’d save both, but you get the idea. It seems to me that one could choose if forced to. I think overall, in everyday life, I’m going to have to agree with Patty. I don’t feel there are degrees of love. Love is love.
So, did I embrace this theory and cease my gift giving to all but my greatest love? No, I didn’t. I still buy gifts for all my loved ones. I am however, open to the idea, and would not be hurt if someone of this mindset chose to exclude me from their gift list. (At least I think I wouldn’t be hurt.)
Our Purpose in Life
This article was the deepest in the series, and also the one that made me question my open mindedness the most. It wasn’t the part that allowed for our sole purpose in existing on this planet to be the experience of the physical. I mean that does go against a lot of what we are taught; that we must learn and grow. In a way that would make life a lot simpler. No more worrying about learning, just enjoy the journey through this physical world, and experience everything you can.
The part that really got me was that if we are here to fully experience our physical world, it may mean that good and evil, as we humans define it, may not exist. We are taught from a very early age about good and bad, right and wrong, good and evil. It becomes very ingrained in our brains that we should be good, we should always do the right thing, we should lead a righteous life, and be fine upstanding citizens. Dumping all that out the window in order to consider this as a possibility certainly took some time.
I spent several days mulling it over, and I still think about it occasionally. Here’s how I broke it down. Nobody knows what our purpose here really is. We have some ideas. We have books and writings. We have the bible. We have people who tell us. But none of these prove, without a shadow of a doubt what our purpose is. None can be guaranteed as 100% factual. The simple truth is, we don’t really know. And because we don’t really know, this theory could be a possibility.
I hope this series of posts made you think a little. Sometimes it’s a good exercise to just toss all your currently beliefs, knowledge, and education out the window for a few minutes, to consider a point. A point not influenced by all the experiences of our life. To consider it from a neutral perspective. This is often hard to do, and I often have a hard time with this myself.
Do I have an open mind? Well, like everyone else, I think I do. I am sure, however, that some new question or theory will again come up in the future, that will make me question my open mindedness.
My challenge to you is to always approach new ideas, new topics, new interests, and new people with an open mind. Consider that the views may be different from your own, but may be just as valid. Realize that some ideas may seem strange, but that sometimes the truth is strange. Practice freethinking and encourage it in your children. And try your very best to keep an open mind.
I’d love to hear from you. Did you find one of these topics more challenging to consider than others? Did any of these strike a chord with you? Do you have a theory or experience that made you question your open mindedness? I’d love to hear it in the comments section!
Other posts in this series.
The Open Mind Test – Part 1: An open minded 2nd grader
The Open Mind Test – Part 2: A Great Teacher, A Little Philosophy, and A Whole Lot of Love
The Open Mind Test – Part 3: Our purpose in life
The Open Mind Test – Part 4: Conclusions, Comments, and a Challenge
Photo by h.koppdelaney