#2 – The difference between having beliefs and having a closed mind.

One thing that really gets under my skin is closed-minded people. I know that everyone has their own beliefs, and I feel like beliefs are important because they give us a reason to get up in the morning and do something. We all believe in something and it’s important to know what you believe in, but it’s also important to realize that you might be wrong. Close-minded people either don’t want to, or are to scared to admit that their wrong. This ends up having a huge impact on other people and the world around them.

One thing that I have realized is some people have a closed-mind about one topic, but not another. There are adults and children in my life that I really respect, and there have been times when they’ve said really offensive things about a political or social issue and I can’t believe that that things just came out of their mouth. In some cases I wanted to distance myself from them because it got under my skin so much. I had to fight this urge though and try to educate them. It’s important to not back away in situations like this because then you could loose a friend and the chance to make the world a better place.

In English this year I am reading “To Kill A Mockingbird” and one hug theme in it is stepping into another person’s shoes. I feel like in general people don’t do this enough. As humans we are very self-centered and it’s hard to worry about someone else when so much is going on in your own life, but it’s not only beneficial to someone else when you step into their shoes, but also to you. Close-minded people often have trouble with this. They try and shut out the rest of the world and just focus on what they believe. This really gets under my skin. It’s really important to have an open mind because the world is constantly changing and evolving and if you keep a closed-mind you will most likely be left behind.

Here are my questions:

  • What is the best way to help a close-minded person open up their mind to new ideas?
  • Why do people become close-mined.
  • Is everyone close-minded in some way?
  • Are people close-minded because they are afraid of change?
  • Are there certain topics that more people are close-minded on?
  • How can you make it so you still believe in things, but you’re not close-minded.
  • Did we evolve to have close-minds to protect ourselves?
Alaena Hunt

12 Responses to “#2 – The difference between having beliefs and having a closed mind.

  • Hi Alaena,
    Great post! I’m Theo Ellis Novotny, a former WtS student. It turns out that I’ll be commenting on your blog.
    Your post was very passionate about this subject. Does it hold any importance to you more than an issue you see happening around you? I can definitely think of some areas where I would agree with you about some people being insensitive about things that don’t apply to them.
    One thing that I think you might consider thinking about is the fact that you are calling people “close-minded people”. To me, this seems a little like putting them into a box, creating a stereotype (sorry about the negative connotation to that word) for everyone who is close-minded, that they can’t get out of. Keep in mind that their close-mindedness could eventually go away, and that it is never good to label someone by a quality, as if it couldn’t change.
    On the other hand, I couldn’t agree more with your statement that people can have a closed mind in some areas and an open mind in others. I am a really into working against bullying and harassment, in which there are many cases where a perfectly reasonable person bullies or harasses someone else because of something that they have a closed mind about.
    I really can connect this to the whole Growth mindset vs. Fixed mindset studies, since in my opinion growth mindset is open-mindedness, whereas fixed mindset is having a closed mind. It has been proven scientifically that people can have growth mindsets in some areas, and fixed in some others.
    Finally, some ideas to answer your questions:
    – I would think to find ways to introduce them to ideas that are very different from the ones that they are fixed upon could work.
    – People might become close-minded because of being brought up in a way that is insensitive towards other cultures, or in a non-diverse community and not having the chance to experience other communities. These could make it so the way that they were told to think, and therefore think, about the world is in a very fixed perspective.
    – I would think so, as all of us have our strengths and our weaknesses.
    – That could be a reason for close-mindedness, since if change scares you, you would probably be most comfortable with everything staying exactly how it is. This would block their mind from allowing our society’s social norms from being updated in their mind.
    – I don’t really know! I would assume so, especially that race and sexuality are some of the biggest areas, though. Those are both places that our societal norms have severely changed in the past years.
    – What exactly do you mean by this? Is it asking whether you can be both open-minded and believe in things strongly? If so, then my opinion is yes.
    – Good thought! I would agree that having a closed mind could be something we have evolved to do, but I would think that closed-mindedness is something that is just part of society. We see this in the utopia conundrum, where we see that there cannot be a perfect society for long, unless there is one person. There will always be someone who is against something, including change.
    Thanks for the great writing!
    Theo Ellis Novotny

    • Thank you so much for your reply and answering my questions. I definitely agree with you that using the term “close-minded people” could put someone in a box. Thanks for pointing that out! I feel like in general we are all to quick to label people when we have no idea whats really going on in their head. When people say that its impossible for people to change I never agree with them. I feel that it’s good to try and help people understand other topics and help them make their own opinions about things. I love that your working against bullying and harassment. I am also currently doing that in my school and I’m learning a lot. Thank you so much for your reply!

  • I am also reading To Kill a Mockingbird in school this year, and I agree that it is a very good example of when people should try to have an open mind. This also gets under my skin, and I thought the examples you gave were very strong. I can’t wait to see where you go with this. I look forward to reading your posts!

  • Emma Reynolds
    4 years ago

    Alaena,
    THank you for your writing! I think you raise some important questions, and I admire the way you critically navigate your way through you thoughts and questions. I am drawn to your questions at the end, I think they will help you navigate your work this year and your future blogposts. Keep thinking, keep questioning, keep reading, keep talking!

    I look forward to reading more,
    Emma

  • Emma Reynolds
    4 years ago

    Alaena,
    Thank you for your thoughtful comments and questions! I love the questions you ask, I think they are important ones to consider. What is the relationship between protecting ourselves and exploring the world? How can we do both? How do our beliefs shape us but also constrain us?

    All great questions inspired by your own questions!

    -Emma

  • Colleen E Kiley
    4 years ago

    Alaena,

    “How can you make it so you still believe in things, but you’re not close-minded?”

    Of all your questions, this one is the most intriguing to me. As I was reading your post I was thinking to myself, “we’re all close-minded on some issues, right?” Or, maybe a better way to say it is that we all have certain beliefs/morals/understandings of the world that were not willing to budge on and we get there because we researched a topic, had an experience, or learned something that brought us to that belief. We may have even researched the other side of the issue, in order to develop our own opinions. So, I think that’s how you have beliefs, while remaining open-minded: you research, and ask questions, and keep digging before settling into one belief. And you encourage others to do the same!

    You’re on to something really interesting here, keep it up!

  • Colleen E Kiley
    4 years ago

    Alaena,

    I just wrote a lengthy response that got deleted (silly me), but I’ll try to recapture here:

    I was most intrigued with your question: “How can you make it so you still believe in things, but you’re not close-minded?”

    We all have beliefs we’re not willing to budge on, but that doesn’t make us close-minded, does it? I think as long as a person has researched a topic, asked questions, experienced the topic, than it’s okay to be firm in your beliefs. We are close-minded when we’re not open to hearing other sides of an issue, but as long as we’ve done our research, I believe it’s okay to hold tightly to your beliefs! And we encourage others to do the same through respectful dialogue.

    This is a fascinating question and I look forward to what comes next!
    Colleen

  • Colleen Kiley
    4 years ago

    Alaena,

    I just wrote a lengthy response that got deleted (silly me), but I’ll try to recapture here:

    I was most intrigued with your question: “How can you make it so you still believe in things, but you’re not close-minded?”

    We all have beliefs we’re not willing to budge on, but that doesn’t make us close-minded, does it? I think as long as a person has researched a topic, asked questions, experienced the topic, than it’s okay to be firm in your beliefs. We are close-minded when we’re not open to hearing other sides of an issue, but as long as we’ve done our research, I believe it’s okay to hold tightly to your beliefs! And we encourage others to do the same through respectful dialogue.

    This is a fascinating question and I look forward to what comes next!
    Colleen

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