(O) Being Open-Minded

Don’t be so open-minded that your brains fall out!

A friend used to be rather fond of the above quote, and as we used to find ourselves frequently in discussion with those who were often accusing us of being “close-minded“, it really became a mantra of sorts. A rallying cry for fighting the good fight. It’s a variation of one that many often attribute to Richard Dawkins, however a closer look shows that the original author is unknown.

It’s one thing to accept that almost anything is possible, but it’s quite another to blindly believe every single thing that you read, or hear someone say. While there is a lot of UPG, and “doing your own thing” when it comes to many Pagan paths, there are still many things which can be verified, or that have historical facts/evidence associated with them. It’s also good to remember that “traditions” are not called such just for the fun of it.  Most importantly, we need to keep in mind that it is not “close-minded” to challenge those who attempt to claim otherwise, in fact it really comes down to a matter of common sense.

If someone asks you why you believe in something, or why you hold a certain view point to be true – you should be able to rationally discuss (even if you don’t give out personal details) at least some of the reasons which led you to feel the way you do. If you can’t, then maybe you need to take a bit of time and really think about it. This isn’t just important as a means to satisfy someone else’s curiosity, but a serious means of gaining a deeper understanding of your own beliefs and practices.

If someone points you to sources or information that contradict something that you thought you knew – don’t dismiss it out of hand. No one likes to be wrong, but a large part of life is growing and learning new things – take the opportunity that is being given to find out if you might have missed something. At the very least you’ll come out with stronger convictions, because you are able to support your own beliefs, but on that slight possibility that you are wrong, here is your chance to learn something new.  In either case you come out better for it in the end.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t believe in whatever you want to believe in, but using critical thinking skills in these situations goes a long way to ensuring that one’s practices, and beliefs are built on a solid foundation, rather than something a bit more tenuous.