The Origin of an Open-Mind

My dad drives me nuts.

True story: My Grandpa Warnick died 2 years ago at the age of 102, living at home the entire time. I jokingly asked my dad one time, “You’re not going to stick around that long, are you?” “You better believe it!” he retorted, “Just to make you suffer!” That’s my dad.

But, that’s not why he drives me nuts.

He drives me nuts because he forces me to think. He drives me nuts because he’s never allowed me to blindly take sides on an issue, any issue. He drives me nuts because he makes me work at understanding what I believe.

And I am thankful that he does.

My dad likes to argue. He might protest (argue?) a bit if you said that in his presence – but he does. Not arguments where tempers flare and voices are raised; maybe debates is a better word for it. Even if you are in agreement with him on a particular issue, he will gladly and quickly take up the opposite side, just to ensure that all angles are being covered. As an annoying know-it-all teenager, I had a hard time understanding why he did this, but I now see what a wonderful, life-changing skill he was teaching me: The value of an open-mind.

I learned at a young age that if I was going to take a strong stance on an issue – be it political, racial, religious, or anything else – I better be prepared to explain why and have a clear understanding of the other side. Because, if I didn’t…Dad would eat me alive. He could find holes in my arguments quicker than I could get the words out of my mouth (I don’t know why I’m using past tense here; it still happens today…). My sister and I were never allowed to answer the question “Why?” with the words “I don’t know.” We better know. If we didn’t know, well, Dad was a patient man, perfectly willing to sit and wait until we did know. It used to frustrate and infuriate me no end, but it has shaped the person I am today.

And who is that person? Self-assessment has never been a strength of mine (touche), but I hope I am the type of person who is slow to take sides without first considering a 360 degree view of the issue at hand. The type of person who keeps an open-mind no matter what the odds and is always willing to consider opposing viewpoints. The type of person who knows what he believes and why he believes it or what he doesn’t believe and why he doesn’t believe it. The type of person unwilling to accept the status quo simply because he’s supposed to.

I sometimes use this blog to push the boundaries of what the CME community is used to. I like to ask “Why?” and get annoyed with “I don’t knows.” I try to approach common topics from uncommon angles. I try. Some efforts are more successful than others. But now you know where it all stems from: My dad.

And I love him for it.

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3 responses to “The Origin of an Open-Mind

  1. Well written! Important and perfectly fine to “have a position”, but you better be able to defend it. Although, does your dad allow some little space for “I don’t have any great reasons, but I just feel strongly about…”?

    • Thanks, Daniel. Interesting question. Let me ask you this: Do you have an example of something you feel strongly about, but don’t have a reason why? I don’t.

  2. Thank you, Derek. This was a great read. Perhaps my Mom and your Dad were somehow related? ;-D There have been times where I’ve had to curb my enthusiasm about a particular issue when the “right” position seemed obvious because I didn’t have enough information. My Mom used to say ‘an uninformed position doesn’t add value to the conversation. It’s better to listen and ask questions if you don’t know.’

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