The Radical Idea of Having an Open Mind

“The One Thing I Know, Is That I Know Nothing”

Nothing baffles me more than scrolling through Facebook and Twitter, only to see endless debates that seem to go nowhere. With social media being such an easy microphone to access, people seem to feel the need to become experts on any topic they choose. Strong, concrete opinions are formed on very little information and experience. These debates always remind me about a story of Socrates, and I think it speaks volumes to the truth about wisdom.

Thousands of years ago lived Socrates, one of the most famous philosophers of all time. One day Socrates got news that the Oracle of Delphi had named him the wisest man in Athens. Instead of being proud and celebrating, Socrates was horrified; him, the wisest man in Athens? Surely there was someone wiser, so he set out to prove the Oracle wrong. Socrates quickly began to realize though, maybe he was the wisest of all. After questioning many others who had a reputation for wisdom, he came to see that he was wiser than everyone else. Because unlike them, he did not claim to know what he did not know. Their opinions were set in stone. Socrates always had an open mind; he was always curious.

I encourage us all to adapt the open mind of Socrates. Life is all about evolution. I know my opinions and beliefs now are different than they were 5 years ago. I also know there’s a pretty good chance that 5 years from now, my opinions and beliefs will have evolved again.

I treat everyone with respect, and I know that, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Everyone is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from them.” There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to have a conversation with someone who refuses to see your point of view. Bigger, better ideas are built off of the ideas of others. Learn to have an open mind with others and entertain ideas other than your own. But remember, just because you entertain an idea, that doesn’t mean you have to accept it.

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