I leafed through a News Week magazine today and read the cover story on Sarah Palin’s evangelical following. The story itself is not what started the thinking that led me to writing this post. Near the end of the article the word “open minded” was used in the author claiming that evangelical Christians have not become open minded concerning abortion.
This post is not a post about abortion or Sarah Palin, but a post about the often misappropriated words “open minded.”
I looked up the definition of “open minded” on dictionary.com. It means “having or showing a mind receptive to new ideas or arguments.” It also means “unprejudiced; unbigoted; impartial.”
It would seem that this word is often misused. How is someone who is firmly against something less open minded than someone who is firmly for it? Is it not more accurate to say that both parties have a prejudice towards their way of thinking or else they wouldn’t hold to it so adamantly?
This seems to be a term thrown against those who have traditional values. Because the values are longstanding and traditional rather than new, hip, and revolutionary, the bearers of these values are seen as closed minded rather than open minded.
A person can be open minded and still be more wrong than a person who is close minded. The level of commitment to the idea has no bearing on whether it is true or not, thus such terms are not helpful or accurate.
I think it would be better to cease the use of such terms that only carry negative connotation and do not aid in accurately evaluating a value or idea as good, bad, valuable, useless, etc. To throw in words like “closed minded” or “open minded” creates a false perception that avoids the actual issue as to if something is sound wisdom or a harmful idea.
What do you think?