What Happens When Educated People Close Their Mind To Diversity?

Do you believe it’s possible to encourage diversity while keeping an open mind in the process?

Embracing diversity is important. No man or women wanders through this life in a vacuum. We depend on others, like it or not.

To navigate current society effectively, we must understand the viewpoint and thought processes of those who live differently; because true empathy is impossible without it.

“Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another, and feeling with the heart of another.” — Anonymous

I get that, but here’s the mystery. Why does this rarely translate to any compassion for an opposing perspective?

And why does an otherwise educated person stop reading anytime they feel tension hearing this question; somehow missing the idea that polite and reasonable discussions might lead to better dialog?

To most of us, the concept of the “open-mind thinking” is a logical fallacy.

A struggle exists in being told our responsibility is to see the world through lenses of unfettered vision and acceptance. The message is loud and clear; everyone who isn’t like us needs the chance to be who they want to be.

But that demand is unreasonable in a polite society because not everyone who professes a desire for diversity believes we all warrant such unopposed freedom.

We hide the truth behind a facade of acceptance; many who cry for diversity act like what they really desire is a willingness to change other’s beliefs to match theirs. If we ask for our “different” viewpoint to get consideration, we’re shut down as an unbeliever is diversity.

How can both those ideas come out of the same mouth?

And which group holds the more inclusive thinkers; one who welcomes contrasting discussions or one who is dismissive while pretending to welcome diversity?

I think about this from a personal standpoint. If my viewpoint is opposite someone else, how does asking for others to consider or even just listen to my opinion equate to anything different from those who ask me to consider their opinion; except suddenly they seem to explain their viewpoint is now the only one acceptable?

The logical fallacy behind a misunderstanding of open-minded discussions quickly becomes clear. That’s not diversity. In fact, it’s the opposite of inclusive thinking and the definition of a close-minded person.

Diversity demands that my opinion be validated as legitimate right alongside any others who believe the same way. We are all fellow travelers in life, many times with similar desires.

Read that paragraph again because I did not say someone must accept my opinion or viewpoint. I didn’t say my view is right or wrong. I said they must validate it so I can feel I’m worthy of being heard. Failure to do so only guarantees I stop hearing any counterpoint; I’m already dismissed as unimportant.

A close-minded individual says, “My viewpoint is correct regardless of any evidence to the contrary and I won’t listen to opposing opinions. I’m not interested in hearing anything different.”

A pseudo open-minded person says, “My viewpoints are correct and all the evidence I read supports my opinion (…unspoken… because I only look at or believe evidence that supports it…).”

A real open-minded person says, “I’ve considered all available evidence, and this is my opinion based on that evidence. If someone brings more evidence, I will listen to the new evidence and reconsider my opinion in the light of that evidence.”

The real open-minded person isn’t open-minded to the hypothesis, just open-minded to the evidence; willing to evaluate it and willing to modify their opinion if factual evidence supports such a change.

If we quickly write off everyone who holds an opposing opinion, we stop any civil discourse, and doing so exposes the open-mind fallacy the way a rising sun signals the coming day.

This myth of open minds and unbiased information preys on all of us.

“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

It saddens me to see otherwise intelligent individuals who blindly follow the Facebook “news” stories written only to support one viewpoint, of which they’ve programmed Facebook to feed them. They validate hate and discourse with every Tweet. They live in a make believe bubble of self-righteousness build from Reddit feedback.

This cycle of misinformation and slant is self-perpetuating and requires no personal research or accountability. It feeds the divide rather than encouraging compassion or empathy.

It narrows our view and IMHO; it is a coward’s pleasure.

Our easy acceptance of all things similar to us with no desire to understand opposing viewpoints removes diversity from society rather than supporting it.

It hardens us against humility, altruism, and compassion, taking with it any ability for society to heal itself.

Thinking this way does not bode well for our future regardless of our individual beliefs. It destines a society of self-centered individuals to break down.

We must be stronger people and stop accepting the role of pawns to social media, new media, and cultural hate, regardless of which side of the political spectrum we cling to.

It doesn’t mean we must agree, but instead, agree to disagree and find common ground to move forward on. Nobody wins when both sides dig in and hide behind a make believe wall build on a logical fallacy and call themselves superior.

Instead, we all need a lesson in listening with a goal of understanding. Many times we only listen with the purpose of responding, myself included much too often.

Doing this opens our mind to personal and professional growth beyond comprehension, allowing us to embrace diversity at more than an emotional level.

I take pictures & write stories. Sometimes I get paid. A perpetual student of life who gets lost on purpose. Clap. Hit Follow. Come along for the ride.

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