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Column: Open Your Mind by Jason Jacobs, Mouth from the South

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Open your mind

Biased.

That is probably the scariest word for a reporter to hear because it implies that the reporter is letting his own opinions affect how they cover a story.

As a reporter, I know I need to ignore my own personal feelings on a topic and sit, metaphorically, in the middle of the see-saw, watching other people go up and down on a subject and just report the facts, which I believe I have done in my short time here at the newspaper.

However, the beauty of journalism is having the opportunity to write a column, such as this, where I can insert my views on a subject freely, and readers know it is strictly my opinion without feeling I am trying to change the way other people think.

A couple of weeks ago, the Brazil Plan Commission held a public hearing regarding the possible rezoning of the Family Worship Center of the Wabash Valley from residential to retail.

The thought from the community was that this would be a terrible thing to happen and I applaud those who came and voiced their opinion against the rezoning for their willingness to speak up.

However, there was something else that happened during the meeting that disgusted me.

The times that Pastor Richmond from the Worship Center or Reverend Fagg of the Light House Mission, who planned on purchasing the center and turning it into a thrift store, began to speak, many of those in attendance started talking amongst themselves and ignoring what they had to say.

It is one thing to listen to an argument and disagree with what was said, but it is another to ignore the argument.

I admit, I was for the rezoning because I would rather see a building be put to use rather than have it set unoccupied, but I am always willing to listen to all sides be presented before I formulate a solid position one way or the other.

By listening to everything presented, it allows you to see a possibility that you may not have thought of before and, in turn, change the way you feel about a topic.

However, in order for that to happen, you have to close your mouth for the moment and open your ears and mind.

That is the biggest problem with people in general.

We want to voice our opinions and push our agendas on other people, but don't want people doing the same thing to you.

I'm not saying to let other people influence the way you think about everything because the difference in opinions leads to great, intelligent conversations and debates.

But ignorance on any level leads to disdain, hatred and fighting due to the ego saying you are right and everyone else is wrong.

Opening your mind to alternative and new ideas allows us, as people, to grow on so many levels and make progress intellectually and economically.

Yes, there are other vacant buildings in the area that the Light House Mission could have chosen to open a thrift store, but there may be many reasons why they felt the Worship Center would be the best place for it.

Maybe the Worship Center was the most affordable space they could find. Maybe it was because the close proximity of a large number of parking spaces attracted them to the building. Who knows.

But maybe, the possibility of the rezoning would have been better if people would have listened to what they had to say.

All this boils down to is one simple ideal we were all taught when we were kids; "You can't hear if you don't listen first."

I don't expect you to agree with everything I say in the columns I write, but I would like to know that you read them with an open mind and respect my First Amendment right to have my own opinions, because I sure do my best to listen to and respect your opinions.

From politics to condiments, everyone is biased in some shape or form, but true growth as a nation will come only from opening your mind to new ideas and respecting the fact that not everyone thinks exactly like you.



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