You’re SO closed-minded…..REALLY???

changing ethics

By Kenneth Justice

~ This past week a reader accused me of less than authentic intentions, she wrote, “A truly interested person would not just take verses out of context”. Apparently, the reader did not like the context and application I used with regard to a number of bible verses in one of my articles. Thus, the reader believes I’m not ‘truly interested’ in the ‘truth’ I suppose or more specifically the truth according to her beliefs.

I always find it interesting how passionate people are when it comes to what they ‘believe the truth is’. Apparently, their contextual understanding of the bible (or any book or issue for that matter) is the only correct view.

I also find it interesting that this particular reader began her comment off with an opening sentence that loudly proclaimed ‘she is right and Kenneth is wrong’, right at the beginning she begins shooting from the hip and accuses me of some type of nefarious behavior, as though I am ‘not interested in the truth’.

How can I respond to someone like this? The reader has made it clear that the only correct context is her interpretation….so the conversation is already over before it has begun. Unless I’m willing to bow to her interpretation there is no discussion to be had. She is unwilling to consider the possibility that she might be the one whose contextual understanding is wrong.

But today’s post is not about attacking this particular reader (that is why I haven’t mentioned her name or supplied a link) it’s about being close-minded in general. Because if we are going to be honest about much of Western Culture we have to admit that the overwhelming majority of us are entirely close-minded. We’re not interested in discussing topics that disagree with our worldview.

We band together in closed circles of friends and family; with people who agree with us on the majority of issues.

If you are conservative, chances are the majority of your friends hold conservative views. If you are liberal, most of your friends are likely liberal. Whatever your particular belief system, it is usually rare to find people who are close friends with people who hold to different philosophical beliefs.

However, if our lives are based on the idea that we really do care about the truth, then our actions should reflect such a belief. We should be more than willing to engage in dialogue with people who hold to contrary belief systems, we should be excited to talk to people who don’t agree with us….right?

I mean, unless we have already attained some kind of ethereal perfected knowledge when it comes to knowing all things……then the only way we can continue to seek the truth is to keep an ongoing dialogue with a whole assortment of people…..right?

This then brings me to a couple serious questions;

–) when people cut-themselves-off from dialogue with people who hold different beliefs…..does this mean they are not interested in the truth?

–) What about relatives who stubbornly cling to resentment, anger, and hostility…..are they in doing so demonstrating a lack of love for truth?

–) What about those of us who go decades without ever altering our regular routine; we never venture out into new groups of people, dialogue with people outside of our comfort zone, and have serious discussions with people who don’t agree with us…..are we not interested in the truth?

Perhaps for many of us this post is far too simple and silly, perhaps this is nothing new and ‘we’ve heard it all before’. Yet if that is the case, then why are so many people in Western Society living on the edge. Why does it seem that if you slightly disagree with someone you are likely to cause World War 4? Why does it seem that people are so easily offended?

If Western Culture really represents some of the highest levels of philosophy throughout humanity’s history….then why are so many of us all too often so closed-minded?

Perhaps some of you are wondering, “Why do you care so much about the truth Kenneth?

And if you are asking that question, then I think it’s time for me to take a break from writing this morning and have another cup of coffee.


Categories: Culture & Society

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37 replies

  1. Reblogged this on Jesse Talks Back and commented:
    Nicely said

  2. Your poetic license as a writer allows you to choose the context and application of the verses to make your point. Another reader “should” only choose their own,to therefore compare and contrast. I am an ignoramus in Bible verses but would venture to guess that being “right” for her threatens the sanctity of her interpretation. My experience is that all examples of closed-mindedness are some threat to the individual. Sometimes it is as simple as pride. More often there are many benefits that hinge on that stance. Any person who cares about a truth would certainly be willing to hear the opposing viewpoints. I would look at my motives for resistance to hear other people out. My prejudices and narrow thinking might block me from a truly enlightening growth experience.

    • “Any person who cares about a truth would certainly be willing to hear the opposing viewpoints”

      Agreed, and that’s why I find it odd that it is often the highly religious people (who are usually the ones who profess that they are obsessed with seeking the truth) who are the worst when it comes to open and honest dialogue

  3. Worse yet, our confirmationist tendencies are only reinforced by the internet, which is designed to give you only what you have already shown an interest in. When you google something, for example, a political issue, you get responses tailored to your existing prejudices, as revealed by your prior internet activity. I am far more worried about that than government snooping, which only amounts to access to existing snooping by private enterprise.

  4. The only truth that exists is what YOU believe to be true. There is no universal truth, only individual truths (that’s MY truth).

  5. I agree with biochicklet. The cause for cutting ourselves off from people of different opinion is fear. It is not that we don’t care about the truth, it is that we are afraid we may not have it. It doesn’t help when disagreements are so often expressed as attacks. Just confirms that all those who disagree really are enemies, so we circle the wagons, keep next to our safe circle of friends….

  6. Just quote the Bible in its entirety next time time.

  7. Funny this should come up now… first, as one comment suggests, what are you supposed to do – quote the entire Bible? And do preachers not quote specific sections of the Bible on which to base their sermons?

    I belong(ed) to a Neighborhood web site – one intended to bring the neighborhood together and help report nefarious activities. I commented on a neighbor’s post, who asked that whoever reported her husband working on his car in HIS driveway, to perhaps talk to them instead of reporting them to the police.

    I commented and supported their right to use their property as they needed – to work on cars, etc. as long as it didn’t harm anyone, and that if we wanted to have to live by other people’s rules, then we should live in a condo where there is a HOA that determines what color we can paint our homes, what we can have in view, etc.

    Another person wrote in to say I was being self-centered. Self centered because I was sticking up for someone else……. REALLY?

    Anyway, I realized I was not interested in knowing any of my neighbors any better and prefer meeting them the old fashioned way – by sharing interests and meeting them on the street. Some people I just don’t agree with and vice versa.

    So your post here kinda hits me from two sides – one, is that I agree that we should be able to disagree and not attack the other person. Two, I have my opinion on things, and unless it is someone I really care to understand and work with – I prefer to not argue or discuss things with others, as they are bound and determined to misconstrue my statements.

    This woman who didn’t like what I said seemed to believe that HER rules of home ownership applied to everyone else, and in the course of that, seemed to think she needed to insult me.

    So I quit the discussion without responding to her. That was hard for me to do.

    Now I think I will have another cup of tea. And then some coffee.

  8. If you would like to see close mindedness on a mass scale you should look at the Charter of Quebec Values which was introduced into legislation yesterday. It will soon be illegal for people working in the public sector to wear turbans, burkas, hijab, or any other religious headwear, also banned any religious symbols although they will permit the wearing of a small cross and the large cross in the National Assembly will remain because Catholicism is part of the Quebec heritage… Muslims and Sheiks and Jewish people will be the ones most effected by this new law if it is passed. Sad thing is the public support this bill has in rural areas which make up most of Quebec. This is religious persecution and discriminatory… So much for freedom of religion it appears to have died with freedom of speech here in la Belle Provence and I will now be forced to relocate because if these are the values of this province I can not and will not be party to them…

  9. In my opinion Kenneth, many of us only can see things from our limited perspective and that’s another reason why I feel we enclose ourselves with those that are most likely to agree with us than appose us. Scripture often offends, why? Because it is the truth and we as scripture states are in wanting of hearing what our itching ears want to hear, it makes us feel good. The same scripture can say many things to different people and unless we are willing to except others viewpoints we will never grow spiritually or allow ourselves to be connected with others regardless of what they share…, but then again this is only my opinion… keep writing. God bless

  10. Most disagreements or debates happen so that the identity created by individuals can continue. The majority of people aren’t aware of who they really are.
    A true individual, a rarity, isn’t battling the world over others opinions.

  11. It is strange that the accusation is ‘close-mindedness’. It sounds like the reader is being judgmental to me which itself is close-mindedness isn’t it? I appreciate your authenticity which shows in your fearlessness to speak the truth as you see it. I believe we all have something to learn from each other.

    • Good points…..

      I might add that being “judgmental” isn’t necessarily bad as long as it is coupled with tremendous amounts of grace and love.

      Thus, I can say I vehemently disagree with the president on pursuing a militarily course of action in Syria; I’ve made a judgment.

      BUT I’m not going to attack the president’s character, I’m not going to ridicule him, I’m not going to disrespect him……..thus, I can pass judgment but not in such a way that I’m attacking him as a person…..and I should also add that I’m still more than willing to listen to his side of the issue and I’m open to being wrong about my opinion.

      I think when it comes to religious debates there is a tendency for people to slam each other’s character and disrespect each other

    • I agree with you on the importance of treating people with respect. I will have to think about what your meaning of judgement….Normally I feel that if you are ‘open to being wrong about your opinion’ then you can’t be judging because the act of judging means you have a strong set opinion. I am open however to the fact that I might be wrong 🙂 I may just have a new blog post coming.

  12. I like what you said. I grew up a Jehovah’s Witness and one of my dad and sisters favorite things to say to me as I grew older and started drifting away from the church and developing my own truth was, “don’t be so open minded your brain falls out.” Still makes me shake my head and laugh to this day.

    • I too grew up in a close knit fundamentalist Christian culture and in those communities there is very little openness to having real dialogue with others outside of the community

  13. It is never a good idea to attack a blogger on their own blog.

  14. Bravo Kenneth. One of the most troublesome manifestations of insularity and fear is the idea that “disagreement equals hatred.” I hate that.
    I actively seek out rational people with whom I can respectfully disagree. It’s one of the reasons I started following your blog!

    • I really believe the hallmark of a ‘real’ man or woman, is someone who can have a major disagreement with someone, and then shake hands afterwards and get a drink together (coffee or beer or whatever is their particular bent )

  15. The truth can be crushing. I’d rather live an ignorant happy life than a real sad one.

  16. I am not one to go around attacking others for quoting Bible verses “wrongly” or whichever book it is that one reads/follows. Honestly to me, these old world religions are a past example that was used to help us develop and move into a new space of equality and freedom, and though we are definitely a bit off course from that goal, the books and religions have served their purpose and it is up to us to seek the truth for our humanity, not as separate parties or groups of religions who can’t agree with each other.

    As soon as one person closes off their own beliefs to those of others, then they have lost touch and with that, lost all presence of what it is to be an open and spiritual being. Thanks for bringing up this post on close-mindedness because many assume religion is all there is, when really it is nothing more than structure. What the structure contains is spirituality and that is where focus needs to be.

    The truth is freeing, but only if you let the discovery of that truth and the change that it brings save you. Your old ways will be crushed perhaps, but knowing the truth is definitely not a sad thing.

    • “not as separate parties or groups of religions who can’t agree with each other”

      It seems as though people too often use religion as a way to cut themselves off from others, rather than as a tool to better serve humanity

    • Exactly! It’s very destructive to the entire idea of spirituality. I don’t understand why others think this is just. Cheers mate. Glad to know you have an open outlook on these things. Peace.

  17. I’m retired now, but when I was teaching (17+ year-olds) I would try to get them to discuss issues from various standpoints. Almost invariably they would try to find out my viewpoint before daring to state an opinion – because “teacher is always right”. This must come from their early education – and it’s sad. Too many people go through life stuck in the mould their teachers and parents pressed them into – that’s not just in the USA and UK, but in most European countries too, in national and international contexts. I’ve seen Christians almost come to blows with one another over biblical interpretations – one might well ask, What would Jesus do? Think I need another coffee, too.

  18. Being right (or thinking you are) has its own kind of seduction. It allows you to proceed through life with certainty, knowing how to act, what to expect, what choices to make. Really seeking truth does the opposite, because it means remaining in that place of knowing you don’t have the truth: you don’t know how to act, you don’t know what to expect, you don’t know what choices to make. It means remaining in a place of anxiety. I grew up in a cult where we believed emphatically that we were right and that we were the only ones who were right. I can understand the appeal of such certainty. But I prefer to remain in a place of doubt, where it is still possible to determine the truth because I don’t already believe I know what it is.

  19. Guess i am on of the few with friends outside of the same belief circle. Not ONE of my 4 closest long time friends have any interest in my journey inward…we decided it best never to talk about how I believe…so we don’t…sad to say, I am slowly finding it boring to talk with them about so called normal things…I have my own way of thinking and for me …anyone looking to know God, can look anyway they want at whatever level they are at….as long as they are looking, who am I to try to get them to see things my way…don’t have time for that and no desire too…God can lead them in IT’S own way and time….liked your article.

    • I like your IT’S . . . ask anybody just what is “God” anyways? . . . and you get a plethora of answers from, “the bible says” . . . to a well scripted universal song . . . 🙂

  20. That my friend is why we are in such a fix in this politically correct, but dumb as bat shit society.

  21. Hmmm. I find the idea of ‘closed minded’ very curious. Most of us are closed minded regarding – oh – gravity and drinking cyanide. I’m pretty closed minded when it comes to the “2 + 2 = 4” dogma. That whole ‘truth for me is different than truth for you’ notion really falls apart when one is falling down a flight of stairs. Reality is a heck of a teacher.

    Why should the laws of the Universe be rather rigid when applied to arithmetic or physics, but so very loose when applied to the ultimate reality of the Universe itself? Why are ‘moral laws’ arbitrary when ‘physical laws’ are so very solid?

    Back to closed minded; having talked to all manner of people about many different things ranging from physics to statutory law, I find this rather blatant principle: No one is considered ‘closed minded’ as long as they do not have an answer. The rather indefensible maxim of ‘truth is separately real for everyone’ is rather closed minded. It allows for no real truth.

    But then, real truth is so inconvenient for many people, isn’t it?

  22. Kenneth… are you trying to tell me that I’m wrong? Because I’m pretty sure I’m right about everything lol – just kidding. The truth is completely subjective in many ways. I have to admit to getting more adamant in my ways about some topics. I would still like to think I’m willing to hear people out and be open to hearing other opinions even if it doesn’t change mine. I believe it necessary to still hear people out because it’s through dialog and hearing other opinions and perspectives that often produces compromise and that leads to better solutions than all or nothing (at least I’d like to believe it does). I have conservative minded friends and I’m pretty liberal minded but either we don’t discuss things or we agree to disagree on some things. Then there are times when we discuss matters but respectfully and that’s fine by me. I like to talk to people with different perspectives as long as it’s respectful and that goes for me also. Solutions are never found through closed mindedness and arguing.


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