the ravster (pearlmaster8) wrote,
the ravster

Open-Mindedness v. Conviction

So recently I was talking with a good friend who I have not really sat down and talked to for a while. At some point in the conversation she told me, "You are a very closed person a lot of the time. You have some strong convictions, which is good, but they can often times stop you from being truly open-minded." I asked another good friend of mine what she felt about this and she told me that because of the way I argue things that I am passionate about, she completely steers away from those things because I can tend to "make her feel inept" and I don't even really listen to what she is saying. She even called me dogmatic in my methods Surprisingly enough, these things came as an absolute shock to me. I am well aware that I am opinionated, but I had no idea that this is how I really come off to people.

Aside from the fact that my friend number 1 was probably justifying my closed-mindedness with my firm convictions in order to not make me feel bad, it brought up an interesting question for me. What is the proper balance between the two? At what point do you need to just stick with what you believe in and stop taking people (who you may really just feel are wrong) and just close yourself off to them? And furthermore, regardless of how I really feel about this on a conscious level, how do I really act.

My religious views on the ultimate personality determiner, facebook, is "Devout Agnostic". In terms of religion I have come to the conclusion, for a long time now, that I will not find an answer to the origins of this universe and where I will go when I die and I am absolutely comfortable with that. I am not going to side with one belief because it gives me the false satisfaction of knowing what is going on, I can just live my life and not worry about such things. I try to keep this going throughout my life as well. I try not to stick to dogmas for I feel they are dangerous. Even my veganism, the aspect of my moral life that people usually know most about me, is questioned from time to time. I feel that if someone could really convince me otherwise about it I would change, otherwise I am no better than those who won't change in the first place because they are scared of it, or think that tradition dictates what should happen. Basically I always try to play devil's advocate when talking to most people, because I am not really sure how I feel about most things. Apparently, though, I am not as good at projecting this as I internalize it. However, I feel that open-mindedness is the only way people can get to truth and really figure out what is "good". (sorry I am taking a philosophy class right now and some of that is peeking its head out right now)

So what about strength of conviction? If I stay with an open mind all the time, I may just sit around and contemplate everything without any action (I have certainly been guilty of doing this on many occasions). There is a point where I admit to myself that I have figured something out and will thus act accordingly (veganism is a good example once more). However, I have to keep the open mind that got me there in the first place. As Chris Rock said in Dogma, it is better to have ideas than beliefs because you can change ideas. However, I have found a few things in my life that I really feel passionate about, so I end up living my life accordingly.

Once I have found an idea that I fully agree with I try to live as close to it as I can. "Animal cruelty is unnecessary and wrong in this society" so I stop contributing to that as much as I can. Now, I am usually pretty comfortable with sharing these ideas that I think I have figured out with other people. Some may call this preachiness, but I truly am just trying to continue the conversation and hear what others have to say. If they cannot say anything that proves me wrong, I will try to prove them wrong that is the nature of ethics in my point of view. However, I usually try to educate myself in these issues fairly extensively, and I guess in attempting to share ideas with someone who has not done this I usually end up making them feel stupid or inept as friend number 2 put it. This is not, in itself, such a bad thing if the person is strong willed and willing to take what I say with whatever merit they want to give it, but apparently it has shut some people off from talking to me at all. That is a real problem for me because I if I just push everyone away because they may be uncomfortable with my views, or worse if they are simply uncomfortable with the way I have conversations about them, I will be unable to spread ideas and it will prevent me from learning new ideas from other people.

Basically, this was just a long bout of self-evaluation. I am struggling here to figure out how I should really act. If my end goal is to try and educate people and educate myself through their views how can I do that most effectively? Maybe I shouldn't worry what other people think and only engage in conversations with those that can "handle me" or my way of speaking. I am one of the most self-critical people I know, and I certainly do not feel that I am dogmatic. I try to use logic and reason to forge my ethics and I will continue to do that. I guess that from now on I will try to make sure I am not presenting myself in such a dogmatic way, but I have to draw the line somewhere.

I don't know how many of you made it to the end but if you did where do you draw the line between open-mindedness and strength of conviction? Do you even think about these things? Have I made myself out to be more of a pretentious asshole just by writing this defense of my actions? I am open to criticism and thought. That is whole point I guess.

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