Living and Learning
I just had a heck of a revelation. Perhaps I am not as smart as I think I am. It could be that I do not have all the answers. Conceivably my opinion is not the only opinion. And maybe, just maybe -- there are other viewpoints -- and they actually have value. Did you ever feel so strongly about something that you were certain you were right? And you felt justified in stating your opinion because it was all in the name of righteousness?
It reminds me of the inspector/officer in Les Miserables who was chasing the thief for years making the guy's life a living hell. The inspector (named Javert) is really not a bad guy at all. Technically he's just fighting for justice. But he is so blinded by his own self-righteousness that he doesn't see the big picture. Sure, Valjean (the thief) stole some bread and broke his parole, but the guy was just trying to feed his sister's children who were poor and hungry. Was that a crime or an act of love? Valjean repented, and he spent the rest of his life spreading his wealth and love with all those around him. Javert couldn't see that because he was so focused on himself and his mission of "justice." He wasted his life in essence persecuting a good man.
Yesterday I was in my Contemporary Art History class getting more and more perturbed at the paintings I was viewing. I am not a fan of contemporary art, and being an artist myself, I thought I surely know what is art and what is not. The philosophical jargon that I was reading in the textbooks was frustrating and angering me. I was completely certain that my viewpoint was correct, and everyone else is just trying to shove nonsense down my throat. I'm right, I thought, in defending "true" art. Why should I be taught such rubbish? At the end of the class, the professor told us to "keep an open mind." I'm certain she was speaking to me, and speak to me she did.
I never thought of myself as being closed-minded. I'm as open-minded as the next person to things that seem reasonable and sensible to me!! That pretty much fits the definition of closed-minded according to the dictionary, which is: "having a mind firmly unreceptive to new ideas or arguments." Guess what the synonyms are: "inflexible, obstinate, pigheaded, rigid." Ouch.
St. Paul reminds me to "clothe [myself] with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." An old friend of mine used to say that humility is "being teachable." I certainly cannot be teachable with a closed mind. Today I will try to walk gently, patiently, and to keep an open mind which will lead me to become a kinder and more humble person. Not to mention a heck of a lot less frustrated!
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