The Results of an Open Mind – Los Angeles Free Press

Posted: July 8, 2020 at 2:44 pm


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An open mind is said by some to be a virtue that corrects errors in judgment. Others find an open mind a signal of indecisiveness, being wishy-washy, or an inability to think for oneself. Either way, its likely very few, if any, of us would want to admit to having a closed mind. In truth, it is likely we all are, at any given time, somewhere on the continuum between having an open and a closed mind and it varies by day and challenge.

By and large, identity groups tend to consume media that reifies their position. It was Alan Watts who, in The Way of Zen, wrote, Men who have dehumanized themselves by becoming the blind worshipers of an idea or an ideal are fanatics whose devotion to abstractions makes them the enemies of life. So not wanting to be an enemy of life, I looked into what leads to an open mind. Turns out, it is a characteristic known as intellectual humility, which is to say, understanding the limits of ones knowledge. And within that, allowing the admission of being wrong.

Cultivating intellectual humility begins with acknowledging that my mind is not perfect, that I have blind spots. We all do. Given this universal condition, there is permission to safely admit, I was wrong. Sounds simple, but there was a time when admitting I was wrong was difficult, as my self-worth was tied up in being right. Today I see it more as freeing my intellect from its limited perspective. But it takes practice. And it was with practice in mind that I listened to our Presidents 4th of July address.

While standing on Black Hills land, stolen against treaty agreements, our President spoke of equal opportunity, equal justice, and equal treatment for citizens of every race, background, religion, and creed. He stated how we embrace tolerance, not prejudice while speaking from the foot of the desecration that is Mount Rushmore. Its intellectual humility that enables one to absorb this jarring cognitive dissonance, hold two opposing ideas in their mind, and still function. Cultivating this ability is powerful, it enables frustration, anger, and helplessness to be side-stepped.

What if we were to do this, not merely as individuals, but as an entire nation? Can we both love America while at the same time admit that slavery, white supremacy, and Manifest Destiny were wrong? And if we have an open mind that corrects our errors in judgment, are we ready to make reparations now? As the Black Lives Matter Movement propels one of the largest societal changes ever in the 200+ years of our collective history, laws of our land will be reshaped to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The good news is intellectual humility and an open mind can be cultivated. Some practices include regularly interacting with a wide circle of diverse friends, being open to new ideas and experiences, and adopting an attitude of live and let live and goodwill toward others. Why do this? Well, its not a new concept living in relation to others with compassion and understanding has been embraced by myriad cultures and religions to their great benefit. And, too, because, in this increasingly interconnected and complicated world, curiosity and intellectual humility have become more crucial to our success than ever before. This is why I explore the illusion of separateness in my book.

Cultivating intellectual humility and an open mind unleashes creativity and brings us hope. You may say Im a dreamer, but Im not the only one. I hope someday youll join us and the world will live as one. Imagine. By John Lennon.

[Ed.s Note: Carolyn L. Baker, M.Ed. grew up in a segregated (white) suburb in Southern California but came of age in the counterculture of the 1960s. And so she went on to a 30-year career in nonprofits that helped the less-fortunate (the coded-container of, mostly, young blacks, older blacks, the in-between blacks, and fatherless black families). Wrapped in her mantle, helping them up, she had little reason to believe she had had a role in their lack of good fortune.

Her book,An Unintentional Accomplice: A Personal Perspective on White Responsibilityfollows Bakers painful awakening to the realities of her own complicity in racism.It is a very personal narrative that explores the complexities of race in America, suggests ways to navigate the guilt that can arise in the face of these realities, and offers relevant methods to build a more humane society.

This book is more than timely, it is a revelation of todays magical metamorphosis. And, literally, you, me, all of us can follow her path to where our personal transformation can take place and, finally, become both creator and participant in a better society.

eBook and paperback editions @https://bit.ly/2At1tee

More info about Carolyn, including her upcoming radio interviews @www.anunintentionalaccomplice.com]

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The Results of an Open Mind - Los Angeles Free Press

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July 8th, 2020 at 2:44 pm

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