‘Tis the season of the seemingly pointless New Year’s Resolution. I told myself I’d start to go to the gym, again, and on week three I have still not been within a 500 foot radius of a piece of exercise equipment. Physical betterment is one thing we try to accomplish, but people rarely talk about a resolution to better their minds. A challenge I would like to propose to address this is to open yourself up to the possibility you might be wrong.
None of us likes being wrong. We go online and surround ourselves with an echo chamber of like minded individuals so our worldview isn’t challenged. We see a news story, and we immediately jump on the bandwagon of the side we are already comfortable with. Or, as stated in a previous Newswire piece, we think others should only be allowed to talk about what we agree with.
None of this is beneficial to anyone, especially ourselves. We came to college to learn and to be challenged. I believe you are failing yourself if you don’t try to learn from your classmates as well as from your professors.
There is a cultural phenomenon in this country wherein if someone challenges our worldview, we tend to vilify them and their opinions to make it easier to protect our bubble. We are too comfortable with being comfortable. I know people who refuse to be friends with anyone who has a different opinion than them on certain topics. You cannot claim to be an open minded individual and not be open to other ideas at the same time.
I will be the first to admit I seek out those like me so we can discuss our opinions together. It is completely natural for people to gather based on similarities — that’s how early humans were able to become sedentary. But how did early humans learn each other’s languages, philosophies and crafts? By interacting with people they were not familiar with and coming together with the recognition that each party present had something unique and valuable to bring to the table. We evolved by learning from each other, a process that is just as important now as it was back then, though we are now learning about differences in thoughts instead of differences in hunting techniques.
The only way our country can overcome the divisions we are currently plagued with is to start with improving ourselves. When you meet people who have different opinions, open yourself to the possibility that they have those opinions because they have experienced something completely different in their life than you have. Your opinions are different from theirs for the same reason.
Allow your mind room to change and grow, and open yourself to the possibility that your opinions and worldview may also be changed. If we don’t learn from each other, and we don’t remember that it’s OK to have different opinions, we will not be better off as individuals or as a country. Learning how to learn from someone else is a much more beneficial New Year’s Resolution than just giving up soda, because while your soda fast may last all of a month, allowing yourself to be open to knowing and understanding people of all kinds is a skill that will allow you to be wiser, kinder and more fulfilled for the rest of your life.
Anne Marie Coriale is a senior business management major from Lexington, Ky. She is a guest writer for the Newswire.