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Ryan Jones Jones 1 Dr. Moore Honors Eng 104 21 October 2012 It is Your Moral Obligation to Read This Envision a friend spouting off about how amazing his or her sports team is, someone that never ceases to rant about his or her problems, or a boss introducing a bogus new business concept that is clearly doomed for failure. Picturing these type of interactions likely is not difficult, as we have all been in a similar circumstance at one time or another.

Donella Meadows wrote an article making an assertion that regardless of who is voicing an opinion, we must listen with open minds. While this may be a seemingly trivial and obvious position to take, the implications of it carry great weight. Listening with an open mind is essential in fully benefitting and learning from those around us, as well as maintaining relationships that will allow us to voice our opinions. Before we can even begin to explore the “open-mind”, it is necessary to understand the responsibility we have to listen to others with an open mind.

As humans, we all carry the longing desire to be understood and heard. This desire ignites even as a toddler; young children are an excellent example. They long for their “all-important” feelings to be heard. Adults are no different; we simply filter what comes out to avoid appearing childish, immature, and desperate. However, the fact remains the same: humans possess a strong need to be heard, acknowledged, and understood. Now, with this truth in mind, we must Jones 2 recognize that everyone is obligated to listen to their fellow humans with an open mind.

This is particularly true in America, where our Constitution states that everyone was created equal. Therefore, denying someone this would be denying them what the Constitution defines as a fundamental human right. This is huge. We can become so passionate when our other rights are infringed upon, such as speech or religion, but so often we can be blind to how we are denying others the right to be heard. It is our duty to listen to others openly. Furthermore, if we fail to listen with an open mind, it would be beyond hypocritical to ever expect different treatment from other people.

As previously stated, everybody thirsts to have their beliefs heard and considered. It is sanctimonious to hold others to a higher standard than ourselves. This is why we must learn to habitualize the idea of listening with an open mind. When we learn to do so, opportunities for growth begin to develop. Maintaining an open mindset is the only way for us to grow and mature. As renowned physicist Albert Einstein once said, “The mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size. ” It is absolutely imperative that we are open to new ideas and thoughts.

Shutting our minds off to a person’s viewpoints simply because we disagree with their opinion would be fatal to our learning. In addition to this, many people may find it easy to develop a complacency with their beliefs once they have reached a certain point in their lives. They may establish a subconscious bias towards opinions radically different from their own, and effectively shut their mind off from anything that contradicts their current beliefs. The tragedy in this is failing to grasp the need of being a lifelong learner. American singer and actress Earth Kitt Jones 3 tated, “I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma”. To follow this admirable philosophy, it is crucial that we maintain an open mind. We miss out on so much when we only give consideration to things we already agree with. The only way to continually learn is to continually have an open mind. Meadows stated this well in her article: The world is richly varied and wildly complicated. Each person experiences only a piece of it. To make any sense of the world, to make the right decisions as a nation, we need many points of view…

That’s why talk shows and town meetings are a good thing. They will be even better when they let all voices be heard with respect, with inquiry, and with dedication to finding the truth. Finally, being exposed to new ideas and beliefs challenges our current belief system. When they are challenged, one of two things will likely happen. The first possibility is that we will listen attentively to and weigh the newly presented ideas, and in turn become aware of flaws or inconsistencies in our beliefs.

If this happens, we have gained greatly because we correct what has been wrong all along. The second possibility is this: we listen attentively to and weigh the newly presented ideas, and in turn the thought process generates a stronger defense for our current beliefs. When we are forced to defend our beliefs, we gain confidence and assurance in them. Instead of simply having an opinion, we can have a reasonable, intentional, and logical position concerning the issue at hand. Our beliefs are strengthened and solidified when there is a durable defense and structure to Jones 4 hem. With all of this said, some people assert that if we constantly open our minds up to whatever comes our way, regardless of its accuracy and moral objectivity, we jeopardize the stability of our beliefs. The thought is that keeping a relatively closed mind helps ensure that garbage stays out, and the good stays in. This contrasting viewpoint believes some opinions are not worth even considering due to a variety of elements. These may be the source of the opinion, the immorality of the opinion, or a wide range of other reasons.

The problem, however, is that it gives far too much credit to the outside appearance of opinions. The open mind digs deeper into the issues and dissects each opinion for their true value. To think we have everything figured out already is supremely egotistical. On the same note, we must not open our minds and allow everything that comes through its path to enter. It is necessary to evaluate and consider each and every thing that comes our way, but it is by no means acceptable to lack a filter when deciding what builds a home in our minds.

To accept everything and to seriously assess everything are two entirely different things that must be distinguished. A man once said, ““I believe in an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out. ” To conclude, we must begin developing a mindset that looks not from whom an opinion comes from before deciding whether or not to respect it. Rather, we must develop a mindset that recognizes the need we have to listen to others. We must fulfill our duties to our fellow humans, ourselves, and our nation by taking into consideration every possible viewpoint, and seriously evaluating the importance of each of them.

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