How I stay open to different ideas and beliefs.

stay open to different ideas

About 7 years ago I joined Tumblr and became a feminist.

I hated men and I also hated women who didn’t believe in what I believed in, I thought everyone was just ready to oppress me, I saw a potential rapist in every single man I encountered (even my own father), and I hated my life more than ever before.

The strange thing about this radical persona I took on for 4 years is that it was so different from how I was growing up.

My childhood was traumatic and filled with neglect and abuse due to my mothers’ addiction to alcohol, but I wouldn’t change the way I was brought up for anything.

I didn’t grow up with a belief in supernatural, I was never told that I cannot do something because I was a girl, I was never told that racism or homophobia existed because my parents raised me without even knowing that there are people who look different than I do or love someone of the same gender.

I never had to unlearn my biases because I never knew it was possible to have them.

So it was strange to witness myself as an outsider in my feminist and social justice warriors’ years because suddenly I saw white skin as bad, black skin as a victim, men as perpetrators, women as oppressed and straight as evil.

I was constantly told to hate myself for being a straight white privileged woman and yet I also had to see myself as oppressed and a victim. It was confusing.

In 2016 I slowly started to slip away from this radical view of gender and sexuality – and the world itself – and I started to open up to different ideas and positions.

I pride myself in how much of a sceptic I am. Even when I was completely enamoured in god, angels, and when I believed I was bad and a victim at the same time, I was able to doubt – although I did always find a way to stay in my safe zone. I think it comes from being raised by parents who didn’t believe strongly in anything themselves.

Soon I started to explore the middle and the right. I started to learn what being a Conservative meant and what happens during an abortion. I was learning about immigration, religion and race. I was all over the place and nowhere at the same time.

But I didn’t settle for one side right away. I wanted to explore and see where I felt comfortable in and how I could express my honest opinions, view and beliefs without feeling like I am betraying the side I was supposed to be on.

One time, someone called me a Liberal. At that time I didn’t really know what that meant but by the tone this person said it to me, I felt almost pushed inside a box; like I had to be a Liberal because they saw me that way. It was a response to my views on immigration and religion, and I was wrong because I was supposed to be a Liberal.

I felt like being called a Liberal was the same as my mother telling me to stand in the corner for cursing. I was supposed to be on the Left for goodness sake, I had to stop saying things that didn’t fit the image they had of me.

Later I embarked on a mission to learn about the political spectrum and see where I fit in. I still have little knowledge of what it truly means to be a Libertarian or a Liberal – is being on the Left and being a Liberal the same thing? – , but I have a vague idea of what certain positions support and believe in.

I believe this world would be a better place if we all had conversations about our views. If we didn’t take issues like abortion and guns and put them in either a black or a white box, but we sat down and explored the grey area these two issues exist in.

Today I want to share with you a few ideas on how you can stay open to different ideas and views and explore sides that you fear, sides that you are told are evil and dangerous.

Here is how I do it:

  • I learn about things that I am not familiar with and I do it at my own pace. When I decided to learn about abortion and why people believe in being pro-life or pro-choice, I looked at the side I never looked at before. I looked at the reasons why people are against abortions. I looked at photographs of aborted babies. I looked at their little noses and fingers and toes. I looked at their little body and read about their tiny hearts and tiny brain. I wanted to know what I supported. No matter which side we are on, we need to know why others aren’t standing beside us. I wanted to know why people believed abortion was immoral so I went out and explored what was on the other side. It helped me realize that both sides are right and wrong at the same time and that there is much more to the abortion debate than just being right or wrong. But I wouldn’t come to this conclusion if I never left the safe zone.
  • I listen and watch people with opposite views have conversations. As I mentioned many, many times on my website, Making Sense is one of my favorite podcasts because Sam Harris, the host, often talks to people he disagrees with. Sam encourages me to be open to different ideas and views, not to change my mind, but to better understand the other point of view and understand where people are coming from. I even started writing about why the vegan movement needs Conservatives on its side! If I only stayed on the side of Liberals with whom I used to feel comfortable with, I would never listen to this interview with Ben Shapiro and find myself shocked at how much I agree with him on certain issues. If I wouldn’t listen to what a poster child for Conservatives believes in, I wouldn’t know that he and I aren’t so different. I may disagree with him 98% of the time, but I am aware that there are 2% on things that we agree on.
  • I judge things after I do the research myself. I test it and see if it sticks.

I am eager to learn and understand how humans think. I am curious about human psychology and I want to go as deep as I possibly can.

I want to open my mind just enough to realize that there is more to life than what I am being told by people who never stepped outside their comfort zone. I want to explore and go on adventures.

And it’s not over yet. I have so much to learn and so many topics to explore that my goal of finding where on the political spectrum I stand is still not near. Most of the time I see myself as a Centrist but then I learn about something I didn’t know before and I lean towards the Left a bit more than yesterday.

I don’t want you to stay open to different ideas and views because I want you to change your mind. I want you to do it because you want to understand people who think differently from you. I want you to do it because you know that calling each other evil is not going to solve problems that separate us.

I am doing my part. Are you doing yours?

If you want to learn about what I am exploring at the moment or simply read articles that I find interesting please follow me on Twitter. I mostly post helpful tips on how to live an eco-vegan lifestyle but I do post interesting articles about politics, evolution and biology as well.

Tanja

stay open to different ideas and opinions

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