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Keep the door of your mind open

Over the last few years, things have become progressively more polarized. The liberals seem to move further left and the conservatives seem to harden their position. This is occurring in politics, religion and education. This trend is also reflected in business, fashion and retail. In trying to analyze this trend, I recalled a saying, “If you’re young and not a liberal, you don’t have a heart; and if you’re old and not a conservative, you don’t have a brain.” I appreciate the compassion and sensitivity of the liberals, but often they need to stir in some common sense. On the other end, conservatives sometimes are so practical that they seem insensitive.A friend of mine who works in prisoner rehabilitation is a man of great heart, but he has become a borderline socialist. He says that for about $50,000 a year per each homeless person, we could provide all their needs and keep them off the streets. There is a general principal, however, that you get more of what you subsidize and less of what you tax. This friend has little or no understanding of the side of the economy that generates the so-called government money. He was immersed in that system as an addict who went through all the trauma and rehabilitation. After conquering his problem, he went into helping others with similar problems. This required immersion in intensive training and involvement in government-funded rehab projects. His entire view of how society works was formed by his own experience and training.The point is that your world view is cast by your life’s input. As things get more complicated, we find ourselves in tight surroundings, such as, social work, the military, educational fields (universities) or business, and it becomes almost impossible to get an overall view.When even the media is so biased and agenda-driven, how do you step back out of your personal situation and get the big picture? If you watch only one news channel, listen to only one kind of music, read only certain books and hang out with friends and co-workers who agree with you and share the same experiences, your view will be narrow, biased, ill-informed and emotionally based. You will become defensive and intolerant of other viewpoints. For instance, if you are a Hell’s Angel, you’ll think and react like a Hell’s Angel. If you are a college professor, your world view will be strongly formed by that environment. If you think that just declaring peace will stop war, be prepared to be conquered by those who think war is a way of life. If you believe you can bring democracy to a people whose religion and government are synonymous, brace yourself for an attack of reality.The poet Ogden Nash has a very perceptive poem titled “Seeing Eye to Eye is Believing.” A line in that poem says, “But I cannot help mentioning that the door of a bigoted mind opens outward so that the only result of the pressure of facts upon it is to close it more snuggly.” My brother Harry asserts that a bigot is someone who does things the way God would have if he had known what we know now.Life is becoming incredibly complex and common sense is becoming uncommon. You may need to reinstall the door of your mind.Ross L. Talbott lives in New Castle.


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