Sat, 09 Jan 2021 - 12:13 GMT
Over the past decade, we have witnessed the emergence of falsely-used and widely-spread misconceptions about ‘open-mindedness’ creating endless debates between two parties, the so-called ‘in and cool’ liberals and the conservatives, who are, on the other side are perceived by some of the falsely self-proclaimed liberals as ‘old-style’. In a society where ‘Open-minded’ and ‘Conservative’ are interpreted as ‘haram’ and ’halal’, so much has been lost in translation.
Each individual has their own set of beliefs, ideologies, and values that are shaped by their societal background and upbringing. In this day and age, the level of exposure to people from different backgrounds and cultures has increased – thanks to social media and many other tools.
Nowadays, we are no longer enclosed in our cocoons of small communities; and with this grand exposure to all cultures around the world, some stand strong to their belief system and principals while others are questioning their own and willing to adopt new ideologies, some of which may be a little unacceptable to the vast majority of the Egyptian society.
So by being open-minded, have we become westernized? Well, let’s get the facts straight here by first understanding the definition of being ‘open-minded’.
What open-mindedness is thought to be: to be living loosely and provocatively boundless to any moral conduct, ethics, or values. The open-minded group is thought to be the out-and-about ‘in dudes’.
What open-mindedness really is: It is nurturing a mental capacity that understands that respecting convictions and perspectives that are opposed to yours doesn’t necessarily mean you are forced to live by and accept them. Open-mindedness is the ability to respect others’ belief system with no judgement or prejudice, so long that these beliefs cause no harm to one another nor deprive people from their basic human rights.
So, what is the case in Egypt?
The case in Egypt is that the term has been used totally out of context associating it to the type of people with a lifestyle that includes clubbing, alcohol, and sex. Elaborating further, the prevailing notion of an open-minded person is one who has no moral value, and lives with no boundaries.
Having said that, some people can claim themselves open-minded based on their lifestyles while in fact they exhibit prejudice and narrow-mindedness in the way they judge how others choose theirs, especially if it is the complete opposite. So to be a real open-minded person, simply, you need to live and let live.
Prejudice is everywhere around us. People experience prejudice from one another in the way they dress up, the way they express their opinions, in their social interactions. This has stemmed from our incapability to deal with differences.
Correcting misconception and getting the facts straight
So, to make it all clear and simple; it is safe to say that a conservative person can also be open-minded in the way he or she does not judge those who live more liberally, and liberals are in fact considered narrow-minded if they label conservatives as ‘old-fashioned’.
The narrative has to change
Egyptians need to understand that it is not a fight over who is right and who is wrong. We are different in the way we lead our lives, and so long no harm is caused, we should respect differences. The narrative has to change and we need to educate people on the importance of constructive communications, where we respect that people can have different perspectives and beliefs and that is totally ok.
We need to nurture flexible mentalities and encourage productive conversations. We need to understand that we don’t have to be rigid and hold tightly to notions that were instilled in our minds. No one should be shamed for how they choose to live.
Keep asking questions, and keep your values in check. Open up your mind to different possibilities, and if you feel uncomfortable towards a certain perspective or ideology that contradicts your values, just drop it, but remember you should always show respect. This is what open-mindedness really is.