I often tell my ultra conservative friends that it would do them good to take some time off, learn a foreign language, and move to a foreign country and live there for 3 years.
Of course, in my recommendation of this I am proposing they broaden their worldview. Not in a condescending you don’t know anything way, but in a way that has a proved track record of results for opening a person’s mind and really helping them see the world, and themselves, in a new light.
This suggestion of course brings with it the obvious side effects of growing more liberal. This automatically happens when you take yourself out of the center of your world and have to learn to communicate with others, learn patience in listening to them, and learn to accept that the way you do things and have done things is likely 99% inadequate if not completely wrong.
The inability to express yourself clearly forces you to think long in hard about what you say before you say it. What’s more, it teaches you to really evaluate what you devote time and energy for.
Second, the unavoidable daily miscommunications you will experience will teach you patience in listening to others, and teach you patience in having to explain to them in ways that are counter-intuitive to how you go about your regular daily life just to get by.
As a side effect, it teaches you how to come up with new solutions to simple problems you wouldn’t regularly have had before.
Third of all, it gives you a vital new perspective in how other cultures think and behave and lets you gain a new perspective on how you used to think and behave. It allows you self reflection and criticism as you overcome your weaknesses by adapting and evolving to work within a new cultural framework.
At the same time, absorbing a new culture and learning a new language give you invaluable knowledge to work with, and these new tools will aid to help you get by in your everyday life.
As a side effect, you grow more empathetic toward others, you learn to accept a different way of life and a different point of view and then learn how to incorporate this into your own personal identity, and this gives you the ability to not only sympathize with others more readily but it strips away you conservatism and any ill-side effects that come with it, such as trading exclusivity for inclusivity and learning, thereby getting rid of xenophobic or racial hangups you may have had in the past. It teaches you to cope with frustration while letting you gain new problem solving skills. It teaches you how to accept the fact that you are probably wrong and that compromise isn’t always bad.
People often worry that you can become too liberalized. But this isn’t necessarily a worry for people who’ve undergone it, because of the borders and artificial boundaries we draw for ourselves, it is often the case that normative conditions will regulate one’s liberalism within a culture so that it finds a nice equilibrium.
I for one haven’t seen a parallel in conservatism. Your culture can either be a little or a lot conservative, but usually you cannot grow more conservative than your outlying culture without becoming radical. The same is true of becoming more liberal. You only can become liberal to the extent that your culture accepts as an acceptable level of liberalness. More than that and you risk becoming radical.
That said, there is very little danger of flying off the rails as you open yourself up to new ways of thinking and doing things, and a healthy liberalization often brings with it many other benefits. Whereas, it seems to me, an ardent conservatism seems to stifle these same benefits or render them thorns to be avoided because growing more understanding, rather than less, has always been the bane to ultras conservative values.