On being open-minded


Whether they’re liberals or conservatives, insecure people can’t tolerate profound differences, so their friends must do one of two things: agree with them or hide their disagreement. Such is the result of being members of a species that has evolved to find safety in tribalism.

I value no readers more than those who disagree with me while continuing to read my blog. The ones who go away mad sometimes complain that I’m judgmental. They list my failings (things about which they disagree), clueless  that every item on the list constitutes their own judgment. For instance, I’ve said that I hate nose-rings (I could give many such examples, but this is an easy one), which I grew up seeing on pigs. If I went to a new doctor, and he walked in with a nose ring, it would bother me. I would even hesitate to hire a roofer with a nose-ring, but I would hire him if he came well-recommended. Even so, I despise nose-rings, the moreso because they
’re so prominent that I can’t not see them

Some people would say that this makes me closed-minded, and that they don’t want to read the blog of such a bigot. I would say two things: I would never outlaw nose-rings even if I could, and if a doctor or a roofer who had one showed himself competent, I would still use his services. I would never make a nose-ring the sine qua non of anything, yet those who object to my hatred of nose-rings nonetheless dismiss my entire being as unworthy of their august friendship.

As for those who stop reading my blog because I hate nose-rings (again, this is just as example), I would simply ask: who’s being close-minded here? I hate nose-rings, but you hate people who hate nose-rings. So what’s the difference? Isn’t it ironic for a person to pride himself on being open-minded, only to close himself off to anyone he regards as close-minded? I think he should have a bumper sticker that reads, “I’m Closed-Minded Against the Closed-Minded.” What good does it do to boast of your open-mindedness only to reject those who disagree with you? It makes your open-mindedness into a feel-good position that is devoid of substance. It enables you to go to your ACLU meeting, your atheist organization, or your Unitarian Church, trash all manner of people, and come home reinforced in your opinion that you and your buddies are the crΓ¨me de la crΓ¨me, and that out there lie the ignorant, the stupid, the benighted, the accursed, the close-minded, the hoi polloi, and, worst of all, the Republicans. If you even believe in God, which you probably don’t, you can pray, “Thank you, Lord, for that thou hast made me open-minded, for my superiority over those who are close-minded is like noonday to the darkness of a cave.”

Here in liberal Eugene, it’s perfectly acceptable to heap scorn upon racists, loggers, ranchers, Catholics, conservatives, white Southerners, evangelicals, the poorly educated, and the grossly obese. While gloating over the hypocrisy of others, liberals are blind to their own hypocrisy. One wrote in response to my last post that he expected better of an atheist (that would be moi). Better of an atheist?! Does he see us as members of some rarefied elite? Fuck that! Atheists are no better than other people. Not one of us is pure. Not one of us has reason to boast of our goodness while rejecting others for their lack of goodness. I’ll tell you who is good, it’s the person who stops to help me when my car breaks down or I become sick on the sidewalk, and I don’t give a damn how he votes or what he thinks about the existence of God. Goodness exists in honesty, in helpfulness, and in being there for people and other animals. Aside from that, neither religion or politics makes the least difference. They’re side issues that have no more relevance than a whether one prefers candy or cookies.