I enjoy reading and writing about history, it is a passion of mine. Though I do not have any degrees, and have not been paid or published, I like to consider myself to be a historian. One thing I have learned from many years of studying history is that history is never done. There is always the possibility that new information or new discoveries will change how a particular historical event is viewed and understood. A case in point is the book Shattered Sword by Parshall and Tully, which completely changed how the Battle of Midway is understood.
We can take this same lesson about history never being done and apply it to other disciplines, other subjects of study, as well as to politics and other world views. Even in science there remains the possibility that new information and new discoveries will change what has become accepted. More importantly, perhaps, this applies to our own thinking, to our own perspective.
We are often told these day to question certain things like religion, yet at the same time that we should not question other things like science. In fact, we should question everything, because it is only by asking questions and seeking answers that we will learn. We cannot learn if we close our minds and shut out information that is not compatible with what we think we already know.
Usually when someone tells me I should not question something, I take that as a sign that I am on the right track.
Sir James Dewar said, "Minds are like parachutes. They only function when they are open."
John Wooden, the college basketball coaching legend, said, "It is what you learn after you know everything that matters."
Yet it seems commonplace these days to argue that other people should open their minds. Ironically, it may be that those arguing that others are closed minded might in fact be the ones whose minds are closed. Perhaps it is like humility, once you think your open minded, your mind is actually closed. Our mind may be closed because we are so focused on opening the mind of someone else. Or, as one wise man put it, we are so focused on the sliver in another's eye that we completely miss the telephone pole in our own eye.
To have an open mind means that regardless of the subject and regardless of our first reaction to an event, that we are at least open to the possibility that we might not have all the information, and that additional information could potentially alter the way we see that event. Are we able to step back from our initial reaction and consider that the reality could actually be the complete opposite of how we perceive it? When we can do that, then our minds are truly open.