Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, one of the lead scientists in the creation of the atomic bomb, in a lecture on December 11th, 1948, spoke these enlightening words:
“[This is] what we have come to learn so well in our [lives]: an indispensable…element is giving meaning to the dignity of man…is the openness of men’s minds, and the openness of whatever media there are for communion between men, free of restraint, free of repression, and free of even that most pervasive of all restraints, that of status and of hierarchy.” (Oppenheimer 51)
Those words, in a lofty sense, connect vividly with the painfully unfunny pun I came up with as the title for this blog.
As we have seen from the current climate of our interpersonal relationships is at a crossroads. Our society is being driven by a group of people who have, to be frank, closed their minds to all answer but their own. They have forsaken a rational mind that is accepting of the changes in the world around them.
As an example, a recent article from New York Magazine contained the blistering fact that “every one of Donald Trump’s cabinet picks so far opposes LGBT rights.” (Landsbaum) The fact that a president, who is supposed to decide on laws and decisions based on a notion of personal freedom, can rightfully oppose the rights of human beings and appoint a cabinet that, in return, will hold up his bigoted decisions as holy doctrine.
Trump’s cabinet is another example of the closed mind being ballooned to gargantuan proportions, yet we see examples of this harmful effect all around us.
A closed mind is the figurative equivalent of a stubborn ostrich burying its head in the sand. It is a result of a person identifying that the world around them, though it is filled with people that make decisions they don’t agree with, should bow to meet their closeted and specific needs.
And, just as Trump is a hateful entity, using violence, the ultimate tool of the closed mind, to protest him is equally as heinous. The example set by the four young African American anti-Trump protestors who recently tortured a young, mentally-ill white man are an illustration of this phenomenon. They are personifying how hateful action against the opinion of others can truly be.
Physical action is a result of the mind controlling the body to act, therefore all physical reactions are motivated by the results of an open or closed mind. Someone whose mind is closed and is bigoted against other races is more apt to murder and beat people of another race. Someone who believes that all human life is sacred will have no problem holding a woman down and forcing her to bear a child that she doesn’t want.
In my view, all hatred and evil of this world are borne of repression. Priests molest young children because they are forbidden to marry and express physical love. ISIS and radical Islamic sects commit acts of terrorism because they are so ardent in their religious beliefs that dealing death is second nature. A teen who is questioning their sexuality might commit suicide if they live in a household strangled by repression.
This repression is a cancer, gnawing at our insides and forcing us to make decisions that are irrational, immoral, and, ultimately, evil.
The open mind, according to Dr. Oppenheimer, is the greatest tool of peace and intelligence in this world. To wield an open mind is to carry the most powerful weapon available to man. You possess a tool that allows you to make decisions based on fact, not preconceived slander and hate.
The open mind is the sword of the rational man, used to make decisions that are based on his own rational belief and the knowledge that his actions won’t limit personal freedom. When we repress, we regress; when we hold back, we fall back.
Philosopher Ayn Rand describes how even an open mind can progress a step further, positing that “what objectivity and the study of philosophy require is not an “open mind,” but an active mind—a mind able and eagerly willing to examine ideas, but to examine them critically.” The next step for the rational people of the world is to question the belief that their open mind has given to them and to know why it is moral.
Muriel Rukeyser, my favorite poet, in her poem “The Motive of All of It” describes what could be seen as the result of the motives of the closed mind:
“This is the most intolerable motive: this
Must be given back to life again,
Made superhuman, made human, out of pain
Turned to the personal, the pure release:
The rings of Plato and Homer’s golden chain
Or Lenin with his cry of Dare We Win.” (Rukeyser)
A mind that is open is one that, according to Dr. Oppenhemer, “is rich in…the fruitfulness of bringing two sets of techniques, two sets of ideas, developed in separate contexts for the pursuit of new truth, into touch with one another.” (Oppenheimer)
Landsbaum, Claire. “Every One of Donald Trump’s Cabinet Picks So Far Opposes LGBT Rights.” New York Magazine. New York Media LLC., 30 Nov. 2016. Web. 05 Jan. 2017.
Oppenheimer, J R. The Open Mind: [lectures]. New York [N.Y.: Simon and Schuster, 1955. Print.
Rukeyser, Muriel, Janet E. Kaufman, Anne F. Herzog, and Jan H. Levi. The Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005. Print.
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Filed under: Philosophical Opinion