“I have always kept an open mind, which is necessary

to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every

form of intelligent search for truth.”

–Malcolm X in his autobiography

 

Malcolm X was a prominent American black activist who advocated for the rights of black people during the civil rights movement of 1960s. What marks Malcolm’s life out is a surprisingly brave and honest flexibility he showed in his beliefs as new experiences and new knowledge unfolded for him. Deeply moved by Elijah Muhammad’s ideas of racial segregation as a solution to the race problem in America, Malcolm joined his movement Nation of Islam. After passionately advocating Elijeh’s ideas for almost twelve years, Malcolm grew skeptical of him when he found out about Elijeh’s immoral extramarital affairs. Similarly, his traveling around the world and performing Hajj in 1964 broadened up Malcolm’s perspective on the race issues, leading to his complete dissociation with Elijeh’s strictly segregationist ideas. Before his assassination in 1965, Malcolm opened himself up to multiple other solutions of racism in America in the last years of his life.

Malcolm’s committed, brave, open minded, honest search for truth is especially pertinent to today’s time period when the truth is often reductively, strictly understood merely through inflexible meta narratives and ideologies, for example, of religion and nationalism. Such an orientation leads to the rise of extremism and hostility towards any other alternative conceptions of truth and can be countered by imbibing Malcolm’s ethos of flexibility and open mindedness.