Upon Being Open Minded

WARNING: This is a shallow, closed-minded post from a shallow, closed-minded individual.

Among my generation, the greatest attribute one can have is being open minded. This means accepting a variety of opinions without getting angry or stating that those opinions are wrong, despite the fact that they may contradict one’s own personal beliefs.

I’m a huge fan of this quote: “Be open minded, but not so open minded that your brain falls out.” If one is too open minded, she gets confused. Everything becomes true. By that same logic, nothing is true. Truths that a person learned as a child become contradicted by the time she goes to college and learns to become “open minded” like her peers. Without childhood truths to fall back on, because those are often derided as “close minded,” she may not know what to believe.

I do admit that one’s learned childhood truths are not always correct, and one may come to believe something different as one comes out of childhood. That’s fine and natural. Otherwise, we’d all still believe in the Tooth Fairy. What bothers me is when one does not stand up for what one believes for fear of being “closed minded” or “wrong.” So she attempts to believe whatever she hears.

For example, a fundamental truth of Catholicism is that abortion is wrong. Our hypothetical person considers herself to be Catholic. By accepting and believing and professing the tenets of one religion, one naturally must reject many others. They cannot all be true at once. Also, one cannot be Catholic without accepting all the teachings of the Church. It is not easy to accept that abortion is wrong, especially when one has been put in a position where many would consider abortion a good, sensible option. (I admit, it is very easy to understand why someone would choose abortion, especially considering how awful pregnancy, outside pressures, and stressful financial situations can be. However, that never makes it the right choice.)

Our hypothetical person is talking to a friend and discussing abortion. The friend is pro-choice, so in order to prove herself open minded, the hypothetical person’s new wishy-washy opinion is manifested, and she says something to the effect of “I can understand why you believe that. I personally would never have an abortion myself, but I am fine with it if someone else made that choice.”

Similarly, the friend might also say, “You’re Catholic, and I believe that all organized religion is a bunch of horseshit, but if you want to believe it, that’s cool.”

I don’t know if any legitimate arguments can be had when nobody stands up for their beliefs or has any beliefs to stand up for, which brings me to another quote that I believe describes my generation: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

Be consistent, people. Being “closed minded” is honestly not that bad. Being strong in your beliefs and being a person of integrity is a virtue, not blindly accepting everyone else’s opinion on everything else because you want to get along or because you do not understand your own faith. If you believe you know the truth of something, say so.

Church Experiences in the Corona Days

Going to Mass since the pandemic broke out and restrictions were put in place has been a strange experience, to say the least. My home parish is one of the more “paranoid.” Every other pew has been blocked off. We enter through only one door and leave through another door. Two hand sanitizer stations are prominent in the gathering area. The bathrooms are now “for emergencies only” (a horrid diaper explosion counts, right?). We must have our temperature taken at the front entrance. Everyone must wear a mask. If you don’t wear a mask, you must either sit outside and listen to the Mass via speakers or leave and watch the Mass on the Facebook livestream. We can no longer sing in church because of the danger of droplets flying everywhere, propelled by the force of our Christian fervor. There is no shaking hands or hugging during the sign of peace. We can’t get up for Communion. The priest brings Him to you. You may not receive on the tongue, only on the hand.

The other Catholic church we have visited does not have nearly as many restrictions. They do the “every other pew” thing, but almost no one wears a mask, and they all sing. There are also tons of people congregating outside (probably not six feet apart) because the church itself doesn’t hold many and now holds even fewer due to the aforementioned “every other pew” thing.

Weirdly, I am finding my church’s Mass more reverent than I had before because of one reason: increased silence. Without everyone processing to the priest in the Communion line, I am not distracted by noticing everyone’s outfit and thinking stuff like, “Ooh, I had no idea she was pregnant!” and “Man, that guy’s beard is super long.” There is no singing, except by the cantor, so I can focus better on the lyrics of the songs and notice things I had not noticed before.

So in all this craziness, there is a silver lining. Or maybe I made it for myself by taking advantage of the extra “quiet” time.

At Year End

If I had to pretend 2019 was a piece of writing and give it a title, I would call it “The Battle with Selfishness” or “The Struggle to Sacrifice.” The prevailing event that occurred was the birth of my son in early January, so naturally, my life turned upside down.

All the poets and writers and anyone who has ever had a child were not kidding when they said that upon becoming a parent, one’s entire perspective on life changes. For me, the key word was perspective. My actions did not change much, but I got the overwhelming sense that I needed to be changing my actions in accord with this new perspective of parenthood.

So much of what I do on a daily basis is selfish. So much of it is useless and destructive, not in an overt way like alcoholism or drug use, but in a softer way. I was playing on the floor with my son one night, and my phone vibrated from inside my purse where I promptly forgot about it upon walking in the door and seeing my son’s drooly grin.

I ignored the phone, but in the back of my mind was a nagging feeling that I ought to check it, even though it was likely only a text from a family member and not urgent. This nagging feeling occurs all the time when I’m doing something worthwhile or unselfish. The nagging feeling says that I need to surf the Internet on my phone, sit down and read a book, go on the computer and write something, or just be alone and away from people.

Sometimes the nagging feeling becomes a roar, and it is extremely hard to ignore it. I don’t know if that is the sound of my old pre-married life coming back to haunt me because there are certain parts of it I find hard to let go of, like unfettered alone time. When I try to make myself remember that I was not as happy in those days, the roaring quiets and the nagging goes away for a time. But it inevitably returns, mostly when the phone vibrates or when I start to get tired (damn that noonday demon!).

Honestly, I’m happiest when I’m with others, although it does not appear that way. Being around others is hard because I have to control my selfish impulses, but it is infinitely better than doing things alone. It is better to serve others than to serve oneself, as painful as it is to be around others at times.

So my resolutions for 2020 are related to being more “other centered.” I will die one day, and I doubt I will be remembered for how many blog posts, journal entries, and fiction pieces I wrote, how many books I read, or how many government documents I edited. I don’t think God is going to judge me on the basis of those things either. My vocation is to be a mother and a wife. That is the way I am supposed to bring light into the world and lead others to God. Everything else in my life should be in service to that vocation, which was chosen by God to bring glory to him, so my resolutions have also been chosen for my vocation.

All this is to say that I didn’t set a writing goal. I’m going to keep posting THE ARCHIVES until all 365 chapters are up. I’m sure the constant urge to write will spur me to post the occasional blog entry here and there, but it’s not going to be a priority. The world is a strange place and becoming stranger by the day. The best way to prevent it from having too much of a hold on me is to renounce it, little by little, and do what I can for God.