Divisions lead to weakness. Divide and conquer. United we stand, divided we fall. We all know this.
What we may not think about is that divide and conquer applies at the individual level. Becoming a highly polarized individual has real consequences for you and your life. It limits you. Polarization results in dismissal of what is deemed to be part of the other camp at face value.
The consequences are that you as an individual see the world along these simple lines. You then cast people into one of two camps based on a single criteria like political party. This propagates the tendency that we have as people to make summary assessments without full consideration of all that is involved.
Once in motion this cursory approach tends to snowball. As a result, you not only cast people into camps, you cast almost anything into camps. From music, to food, to places you cast them into your camp or the other based only on face-value. One cast into the other camp they are effectively eliminated from your future experience.
More and more, you become confined to an increasingly narrow world. Your understanding will remain forever limited based upon instant evaluations.
While our tendency to make cursory evaluations and to sort people into camps comes naturally, it is not absolute. We are also naturally curious and seek to get outside of the bubble we create. For example, surveys consistently indicated that one of the main reasons people go on vacation is to experience new places and cultures.
As we become more polarized we seem to forget that being more open minded doesn’t require you to agree with, shift your thinking or even condone views that you currently don’t hold. It doesn’t preclude you from holding, expressing or pursuing beliefs that are not held by most others. It does involve getting beyond cursory evaluations.
For our society, our nation and our world, being open minded helps us identify and unite. It allows us to see the similarities that make us human. Those which we too readily discard when we sort others into camps.
For you as an individual, being open minded provides you the opportunity to better understand others and the broader world. An understanding that will improve your view of them and the world, for whatever purposes you choose to use it.
Without this continued experience, you become trapped. Your understanding of others and the world becomes less and less valid until you are completely disconnected from reality and lost.