On Being Open
Photo by Sonja Andersen
“Sometimes the tough lessons learned are not what convention teaches”
History is perhaps one subject that at first glance would seem rigid and unchangeable. It’s quite reasonable to assume that once something “happens”, it cannot be undone. However, discoveries by those seeking the truth are continuously uncovering or even scientifically proving that certain events occurred differently. With the advancement of technology, each year another lost civilization is being unearthed or a pre-Homo Sapiens species is exhumed.
All of this information, no matter how much proof accompanies it, takes a while to disseminate into common knowledge and even more time to be accepted by the general public. Humans have a tendency that once something is learned, that fact is not easily changed. In some sense, our minds need to be open to change in order to amend what was once considered an irreversible fact.
History, though, does not have a monopoly on this perspective. When it comes to personal philosophies of spirituality, politics, or other private affairs, we hold steadfast to these ideals as a matter of principle. These beliefs have made us who we are and under some conditions, we will even put our own lives at risk defending them.
There are times when those beliefs go through major paradigm shifts and just as it is with historical finds, they often shatter ideas that we once considered immutable. Catch phrases and clever slogans often sound as though their meaning is virtuous and should never be questioned. One such phrase is “Time heals all wounds”, while it has a poetic and prophetic sound, it couldn’t be further from the truth. There is nothing healing about the passage of time. It only makes those wounds appear to be less significant which mimics a semblance of healing.
Sometimes when our beliefs are confronted by opposing or conflicting views, we are challenged by a response of being more tolerant or keeping an open mind. Although I’m a big proponent of this way of thinking, it’s not always possible. For instance, there are some ideals which cannot be tolerated such as injustice, bigotry, or abuse.
Being openminded is important but it also does not mean that because you consider yourself to be so that your way of thinking is absolutely right. Ironically, if you are openminded then the other person’s point of view has to be taken into consideration.
There is, however, one part of us which can remain open and that is being open-hearted. This signifies the true intentions of our being. It transforms all of those ideals which should not be tolerated into justice, equality, and love.
Being open-hearted demonstrates compassion, community building, and humility. It creates a different kind of dialogue with disagreement and doesn’t resort to hateful or hurtful tactics but rather reasons with empathy and kindness. By no means does it indicate weakness but a strength far greater than any anger or resentment could ever reach.
I believe that at birth, we all are open-hearted and it’s our teachings and circumstances that contribute to the prejudices and selfishness which build that proverbial wall within us. It takes practice to remove those bricks and once again learn to be open-hearted. This week, remind yourself to have open-hearted dialogues especially with those who have been a bit insolent in the past. I hope to read about some of those in the comments.
Thanks again to Sonja Andersen for the delightful photograph.