I want to read and learn all I can, write thoughtfully and truthfully, live according to reason and ever more mature wisdom, and savor every wonderful little gift of life.
I think a LOT about open-mindedness, because becoming open-minded has improved my life so dramatically, and because I live in a place where many people are decidedly NOT open-minded, though they usually think they are. (Self-deception is another topic that intrigues me.) I want to broaden my own mind more and more, and I want to help others achieve the same benefits. In my Toastmasters club I have given speeches about open-mindedness, and in my personal writing projects I’ve written pages upon pages about it. I care deeply and passionately about open-mindedness; I see it as a force that fuels positive, world-changing progress.
But I also see a problem with all these efforts of mine: they are futile. Here is why:
“There are two things which cannot be attacked in front: ignorance and narrow-mindedness. They can only be shaken by the simple development of the contrary qualities. They will not bear discussion.” –Lord Acton
Open-mindedness is not something you can talk people into; to my disappointment, it just doesn’t work like that. The only way to successfully help other people become open-minded is by exposing them to new ideas—in short, by education.
That is what ultimately motivates me to share my “studies tidbits,” though there are plenty of other factors, too, such as that I just like writing about what I’m learning. I’m going to keep writing and thinking about open-mindedness, but only because I can’t help it; the fire in me is too great to be squelched. But I will not forget that the only real way to help my culture grow more open-minded is to help my culture become more educated.
At the end of the day, if I’ve made a difference, then that’s wonderful. But if not, I’m at least grateful for how education has opened my own mind—and by extension, my life—and continues to do so.