Happy Hanukkah and Season’s Heatings
by The Crowded Camel
The Crowded Camel, having recently started dating again, is redoubling his efforts to cultivate an open mind towards other cultures and religions. This year he is partaking in the Hanukkah tradition of lighting candles and saying the Hebrew blessing. Afterward, he plans to enjoy some gelt and play dreidel games by himself.
Unfortunately, disaster strikes while the Camel is in the process of lighting his Menorah, as a candle falls and catches his Christmas tree on fire. If he cannot extinguish the flames, the fire threatens to consume his entire home. The Hanukkah experience has been a major disappointment for the Camel, and his attempts at broadening his cultural understandings have backfired, leaving him fearful and confused instead of peaceful and enlightened.
While tempering the flames that threaten to scorch his holiday experience, the Camel should reflect on the work of Milton Rokeach, a Polish-American social psychologist who wrote about open-mindedness in his 1960 book The Open and Closed Mind. Rokeach claimed that one is open minded when he can “receive, evaluate, and act on relevant information received from his environment on its own intrinsic merits, unaffected by irrelevant factors arising from within himself or from his environment.” This is precisely to what the Camel aspires. However, Rokeach also came to the conclusion that close-mindedness and dogmatism represent systems of defense against anxiety.1
Understanding that cultivating an open mind requires facing anxieties that have long been avoided, the Camel must realize that the process may be messy at times, and requires strong resolve and determination. As obstacles arise to discourage his goal, the Camel must overcome them in stride, realizing that by experiencing other cultures, he is on a noble path towards a more sympathetic, understanding, and enjoyable relationship with not only his lady friend, but all of mankind.
- Rokeach, Milton. The Open and Closed Mind; Investigations into the Nature of Belief Systems and Personality Systems. New York: Basic, 1960. Print.