The open-minded person says, “I will always try to give a fair hearing to words and ideas that I do not like, or which make me uncomfortable; for my preference and comfort are not valid measures of the true, the good, and the beautiful, which will as often as not prove to be cleverly hidden behind some discomfitting word.”

The closed-minded person says, “I will not listen to what you say if I find it disagreeable or out of step with the views of my people — my tribe, my party, my friends, my favorites; for what makes me comfortable in my present state and environment is what counts as truth for me, and I therefore prefer never to be disturbed from my stable reverie.”

The tyrant says, “I will not have a world in which anyone may hear words that I find disagreeable or uncomfortable; for the world must be exactly what I say it is, and a determined reality must admit no rivals or exceptions.”

The first is a man prepared to face the world as it is, come what may; he alone may see beauty, experience goodness, and grasp being.

The second is a child terrified of the everpresent danger of disillusionment, which is to say of learning, which is often painful or practically inconvenient; he will live forever in his private and immature dreamworld, usually following vicious and harmful paths due to sheer willful ignorance.

The third is the living definition of cowardice, a man who would destroy an entire cosmos, and all life and thought within it, in response to the never-ending spasms of nihilistic panic that constitute his existence; his soul itself becomes the void in which he would protect himself, a quivering chaos comprised entirely of transient feelings, his reality alternating permanently between the temporary noise of material indulgence and the ever-abiding rumble of the undercurrent from the most dreaded river in his soul, his personal Tartarus, rational doubt.

The first and third types, by nature the rarest, are essential rivals, each naturally seeking to eradicate the other. The second, middle type, by far the most common, indeed almost definitive of the common, is the bane of the first, primarily because it is perfectly calibrated to serve as the useful instrument of the third.

You may also like...