The importance of an open mind


photo by Caitlyn Hale

The biggest problem in the world is people not being able to listen to differing opinions. Many closed-minded headspaces are adapted during childhood from political and family aspects.

Imagine not listening to anyone who wears purple socks. Maybe professing deep hate for anyone taking Sign Language. Sound insane? Unfortunately, the world is full of people who refuse to listen to the opinions of other people. It seems nothing opinionated can be said without a fight breaking out. The problem may appear difficult to solve, but the solution is simple: people need to be more open-minded.
Topics like racism, homophobia and xenophobia are what everyone thinks of when the phrase “closed-minded” is used, but the examples go beyond these few.
Our deepest opinions, from politics to food to music, are generally formed in childhood. Many of us learn to carry a negative attitude toward things that are different from what we are used to, which creates a number of issues. Instead of parents teaching their children to be open to learning about new things, ideas are shot down and children are taught to think through their parents and not for themselves.
Instead of politically, imagine an acceptance with food. From a young age, children develop favorite foods that parents have offered to them. If your family always ate the same three or four meals and everything else was discouraged, you would be less willing to try new foods—less open-minded.
People generally form their own opinions about everyday things. Not everyone chooses a friend group that shares all of the same interests as them; that would be boring. A little bit of disagreement on relevant issues is part of healthy conversations, until individuals start getting overly defensive. That is why listening to what others have to say is important; you do not necessarily have to agree, but listening to a different opinion is an important life skill for everyone to have.
Stereotypes people tend to form about certain music stops them from listening to different genres. All country music shares the same themes; beer, trucks and girls or metal music being made up of a bunch of people screaming into a microphone, are all common assumptions of certain genres. People grow to be so comfortable with the one selection of music that they do not give other types a chance. Different groups of people are thought to listen to certain music when in reality, music is music, and anyone from around the world can take a liking to it.
Because certain customs are associated with different cultures, cultural stigmas tend to show up. Some choose to decide in their head that one race is more superior than another, which could not be farther from the truth. Without different cultures, there would be no flavor in the world and day to day things such as food, clothing and music would lack diversity. A person’s favorite piece of clothing may come from China or their favorite food originate in Mexico. Superiority complex’s blinds a person from realizing that without the culture they dislike, their life would not be the same.

This subconscious “I am better than everyone” mindset plays a huge role in racism in the world. Black Lives Matter brought people together against racism, but there are still prominent acts of discrimination in the world. Traveling to other countries can give people an opportunity to learn more about aspects of other people’s lives that they may not be as aware of such as a certain lifestyle.
With COVID-19 as the world’s biggest topic for the past year and a half, people have differing opinions about masks and vaccines. Instead of respecting others’ choices on the matter, some choose to shove their ideas down people’s throats. In many counties, masks are optional for students, giving them a chance to make their own decisions about the topic. People are entitled to their own thoughts and opinions, but that does not mean that everyone else has to live their lives based on what you think. “Put a mask on” and “you should be vaccinated” are common phrases nowadays. This has caused a lot of controversy and excessive arguments amongst diverse groups of people.
It is important for teens and young adults to understand the importance of being open-minded instead of immediately rejecting things that they are unfamiliar with. Open-mindedness is not something that can be developed overnight, but with elevated patience and understanding, everyone has the ability to accept all different ideas and people.