Open mindedness

I was chatting with a friend the other day (who does read this blog btw) and realized something I thought was important.

This friend was asking if I “had to be accepted” buy the group of homeless that live in my area. And if so, did I know why I had been accepted.

My reply was yes to the first and I think I know why to the second.

I think I was accepted so quickly because I didn’t care what they looked like. Or care what they might smell like. Or care what other people thought about them. I wasn’t afraid or embarrassed to be seen with them.

Later I was telling this friend about sharing a sandwich with the oldest (most stereotypical image) fellow in the group.
My friend, who’s one of the most open-minded people I know wrinkled his nose and leaned away from me. It wasn’t me he was reacting to, it was the idea of sharing food and drink with a dirty homeless person. Germs. Disease. And so on.

I don’t think my friend even realized that the reactions happened. It was unconscious, I think.
Because as I said earlier, this person is very kind-hearted and is consciously aware of not judging people by how they look.
But it made me think that many many people probably aren’t aware of the plethora of signals they put out.

I don’t know why this seems so important to me.

I know that if it had happened to one of my homeless acquaintances I would have been embarrassed that I brought someone into their lives who behaved like that. I’m pretty sure that if I saw a person on the street treat them like that I would be offended and likely upset.

I don’t know that I have a point for this post, maybe it’s a request that we all be aware of our judgements of other people. Maybe it’s that we try and be aware of how our body language can cause offense or pain to someone else.

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  1. “Open-minded” or “closed-minded” doesn’t really seem to fit the description here. Being open-minded or closed-minded has to do with your willingness or unwillingness to consider the merits of an idea. It doesn’t have anything to do with whether you find eating food with different kinds of people palatable. Personally, I don’t like to eat off of other people’s plates. I don’t like to eat other people’s leftovers. I don’t like to wear other people’s clothes, even if they’re perfectly clean. That’s just a quirk of mine, though. It doesn’t have anything to do with whether I’m open-minded or not. Some people don’t like to shake hands because they’re germophobes. That has nothing to do with whether they are open-minded or not.

  2. In the context of our overall conversation the topic “open-mindedness” fit.

    I was trying to describe how even though our minds may be committed to an idea, our body’s reactions show our true feelings (even if we consciously are trying to change our beliefs).

    And that it is sometimes very difficult to apply what we believe, or want to believe, consciously to what we do in everyday life.


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