There is a lot of talk about tolerance of all and about being open-minded to new views, those other than your own. What does it mean, though, to be open-minded? Do we confuse the two, tolerance and open-mindedness?
According to the dictionary, to be open-minded is to be "willing to consider new ideas, unprejudiced, non-judgmental". However, if you think about it to its conclusion, to what end do we want to be open? Do we want to be open to new ideas just to be pulled in any direction? Is it good to be open to anything without any thought given to it? Should I not ponder to what I am opening up and come to some conclusion as to its value? Should I not consider whether it contributes to my understanding of truth and how to communicate truth to those who may be "open" to falsehood?
I am not talking about preferences, jewelry or no jewelry, long hair or short hair, dressy or casual, which flavor I prefer or do I do it one way or another. However, when it has bearing on life's greater questions, should we not give pause to consider connections to truth? What we are open to does matter. What we think and do does matter in the grand scheme of things. I want to be willing to listen, to hear what you think, but though I don’t want to pass judgement on you to criticize or condemn, I must make a judgement as to whether your ideas are sensible or wise or true.
Critical thinking is a skill to be desired and cultivated. To think critically is to evaluate and analyze an issue in order to come to a conclusion as to its relationship to truth. Yet we get the concept of critical thinking mixed up with that of criticizing, that is expressing disapproval and then not on the ideas being conveyed but on the one conveying. In so doing we commit the fallacy of equivocation when in fact a little critical thinking and open-mindedness is in order. It isn’t about ridicule or disrespect, but about having an inquiring mind of one’s own in which we appreciate and consider opposing viewpoints while coming to an understanding of what is best supported by the evidence and leads one to a fuller understanding of truth.
Tolerating your right to believe what you will does not mean I have to embrace or be open to it as equal to truth. That is just ridiculous. It is convoluted. It's wrong. Isn't it interesting that those who confuse tolerance and open-mindedness making them one and the same are often the very ones who malign those holding opposing viewpoints to their own with no critical thinking whatsoever. They don't want tolerance of equal but opposing ideas. They want submission to their ideas as superior.
So I have come up with my own definition to how I would like to be open-minded. Here it is.
Open-mindedness: Respectfully listening and considering the ideas of others because I would rather be right than validate my opinion.
What do you think? Help me refine my definition if you will or give me your thoughts on what you think being open-minded should look like. Until then, I do have strong opinions on things, but I am open-minded enough to respectfully listen and consider what you have to say, because I would rather be right than validate my own opinion.