Knowing Your Morals

The other day I read a sign that said “don’t be so open-minded that your brains fall out,” and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. I keep wondering whether it was meant to be a negative or positive message. At first, I thought it was a sign saying not to accept all types of people, or not to respect different religions. In other words, don’t be open-minded about opinions or views that you don’t have. However, the wording of the phrase was so odd, I had to think that there was much more to it. 


Several people throughout history have used this expression and added their own twist to the phrase. In 1940, Walter Kotschnig gave a speech to a group of college students and said, “Let us keep our minds open by all means” though don’t keep your mind too open that your brain falls out. During this speech, he warns these young adults that there are “acts which are right and acts which are wrong.” He tells people that there are moments that you must discover what is the right thing to do and what you believe is right and wrong. This quote tells you to explore your moral values and open up to new possibilities but not always accept them.


G. K. Chesterson wrote an autobiography that commented on the same idea of open-mindedness. He said, “The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.” When you are eating you have to close your mouth and process the taste. When becoming aware of a new idea, you have to process it and figure out if you agree with it or not. You can’t just eat up everything that people tell you. You have to spit it out if you don’t like the taste. 


In 1886, Sir Edward Clarke gave a speech to the U. K. House of Commons where he said that the “mind was indeed so open that it had nothing in it all.” Opening your mind to the point where anything could come in is not always a good thing. You could be opening your mind to lies and deceitfulness. Clarke is reminding people that not everyone is right and that if you keep your mind too open, then you lose knowledge of what is right and wrong.


All these people are discussing the discovery of new perspectives and ideas of different things, but each tells you to be cautious. Not everything is the right choice and not everything is the wrong choice, and it’s for you to decide and no one else. There are many instances where something might be right for you and wrong for someone else. Knowing your morals is a large part of your self-identity, so don’t keep too much of an open mind, but don’t be completely closed off to new ideas or morals.