My two sisters and my one brother are much older than me. I often joke that I was an only child with five parents. It’s very difficult for me, even though I will be 40 years old on my next birthday, to out-live the title of “baby of the family”.
Conversations with my neo-conservative sister (seven years older) often involve wading into a controversial subject that would end in her evaluating the interaction and giving me some
motherly sisterly advice. Nearly every conversation would end with, “Don’t be so open minded that you’ll let anything in.”
If I disagreed with her about taxes: Don’t be so open minded that you’ll let anything in.
If I disagreed with her about political systems: Don’t be so open minded that you’ll let anything in.
If I disagreed with her about military intervention: Don’t be so open minded that you’ll let anything in.
If I disagree with her about religion: Don’t be so open minded that you’ll let anything in.
One particularly heated argument (by Scandinavian-American standards – which involves any discussion that could even be called ‘an argument’), a very long time ago, concerned marriage equality. She insisted that “homosexual” was a willful action and not an identity referring to sexual orientation and various nonsense about “gay marriage” being ridiculous and supporting it being ungodly or whatever and blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. I responded to her “arguments” but she accused me of not listening to her and just waiting for her to get done talking so that I could hear myself speak.
I was a bit indignant – but I knew it was true. There is nothing she could possibly say that would change my mind. What? She was going to convince me that my friends shouldn’t have the right to marry their partners?
It’s not happening.
It simply wasn’t up for debate – well not REAL debate. A real debate is a negotiation where various stake-holders come to the table, make their cases and come to a conclusion. I’d be happy to “debate” marriage equality as a means of convincing an audience, as some sort of spectacle, but there was no audience to convince. The stake-holders were also not invited – so what sort of legitimate “debate” could there be on this issue between us?
I absolutely was just waiting for her to get done talking so I could put in my two cents; so I could articulate my thoughts; so I could explain how she was wrong.
Then she said, “Don’t be so open minded that you’ll let anything in.” Instead of, yet again, allowing my stance to be discredited as simply youthful contrarianism or whimsy – I finally told my sister:
“I’m not open minded. I disagree with you.”