The open mind is commendable when it is like a road that leads to a city, but the open mind is condemnable when it is like an abyss.
Those who boast of their open-mindedness are invariably those who love to search for truth but not to find it; they love the chase but not the capture; they admire the footprints of truth, but not catching up with it. They go through life talking about “widening the horizons of truth” without ever seeing the sun. Truth brings with it grave responsibilities; that is why so many keep their hands open to welcome it but never close them to grasp it.
The real thinker who is willing to embrace a truth at all costs generally has a double price to pay—first, isolation from popular opinion. For example, anyone who arrives at the moral conclusion that divorce prepares the way for civilization’s breakdown must be prepared to be ostracized by the Herods and Salomes of this world.
Nonconformity with popular opinion can be expected to bring down opposition and ridicule upon the offender’s head.
Second, those who discover a truth must stand naked before the uplifted stroke of its duties or else take up the cross that it imposes. Those two effects of embracing truth make many people fearful. In their cowardice, they keep their minds “open” so they will never have to close on anything that would entail responsibility, duty, moral correction or altered behavior.
The “open mind” does not want truth for truth implies obligation, which predicates responsibility, and responsibility is the only thing the “open mind” is most eager to avoid. Avoiding responsibility only results in the abdication of one’s free will to another, whether it be to an ideology or to a director. The only real solution is for those with “open minds” to grasp truth, even though it does involve a change in behavior, for ultimately it is only truth that can make them free.
—Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
Way to Inner Peace (New York: Alba House Publishers, 1994)