Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm open-minded...

The joke on CouchSurfing (yep, I'm still pimping the site) is that every person describes himself/herself as "open-minded". In fact, you see it described so often and for so many people, that it ends up losing meaning.

I used to believe that I am open-minded and pretty liberal about other people. But I have come to realise that being truly open-minded is one of the hardest things to do. In fact, I think it might be almost impossible to be so (for me).

The whole idea behind this business is that you accept the choices that others make, the customs they follow and so on, irrespective of what you think about the matter. The actions that do not affect you are none of your business. That's how it should ideally be.

But judging someone is so easy. And so tempting. The reason you make a certain choice is because you gave it some thought and decided that you do not agree with what the other options entail. Following a religion that makes you do strange stuff, walking 3 km to save money, preferring pizza to lasagna, cheating on your girlfriend (or not) - all these choices that you made are something that you can justify to yourself. No one else can understand the reasons behind a certain decision. They can agree or disagree, but I believe it is difficult to understand.

But when I see someone doing that I may not agree with, my mind kicks into overdrive listing all the reasons that it is wrong (reasons that apply to me), and I end up deciding that the person made a bad decision. For example, I have decided for myself to never smoke (limitation not confined to just tobacco, but to other stuff too). This, however, should have no bearing on whether my friends or others should or not do that. And yet, every time I see someone I know do it, I veer towards judging them to be a lost cause.

One of the results of hanging out with non-Indians is that I can easily end up outside my comfort-zone. Unless you really face a situation that tests you, you don't know how you will react to it. So this has been a great learning experience - where I am in the process of figuring out what is (and isn't) kosher for me. And that isn't the difficult step.
Learning to not hold your standards as a measure for someone else is difficult.

1 comment:

  1. You're right on the money. Being truly open minded is very hard to accomplish. Maybe some monks have mastered it, thought.

    I do have to laugh when I see people on CS write that they are open minded and then you see a shitload of rules and conditions for them to host someone... oh well.