Commentary

Excuse Me, Your Zeal is Showing

By Rachel Birdsell |

I think Bertrand Russell had it right when he said, “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”
I don’t like fanatics of any ilk. They’re so blindly zealous that they become rabid about their cause, and then they never shut up about it.
For the most part, I’m fine with people believing in whatever they want. If you want to believe in talking snakes and mud people, then more power to you — as long as you keep it to yourself. Go to church; worship your god of choice. Share your beliefs with people of your own faith, speak in tongues and praise Jesus ‘til the cows come home. But please don’t feel like you need to tell me about any of it. I won’t be born again no matter how much effort you put into saving my soul. I understand that your Bible commands that you save the world, but it also commands that you love your neighbor. If you really love me, you’ll keep your convictions to yourself.
Unfortunately, on the other end of the god scale we have the “atheist” fanatics. I’m thrilled that atheism is coming out of the closet, so to speak. The Internet has gone far to making atheist a less horror-inducing word. It’s allowed other atheists to reach out and find those who share a mutual nonbelief, but it’s also brought the nutters out of the woodwork. I’m happy you considered Hitchens to be one of your besties and can quote all of his speeches verbatim, but keep it to yourself, already. If you’re walking around shoving your nonbeliefs in people’s faces and telling believers how wrong they are, how are you any better than those same believers when they proselytize their beliefs?
But it’s not just fanatics that may or may not rally around a religious tenet that annoy me. Hello, vegans! Well, not all vegans — just the ones who try and convince everyone within ear’s reach that eating meat is the equivalent of dining on a human baby. I’m not going to stop eating meat, at least not today.
I think it’s great that you’ve found a diet and lifestyle change that works for you, rabid vegans, but for the love of little brown sausages, don’t act so damn smug about it. You can secretly think you’re superior to the rest of us knuckle-dragging meat eaters, but you don’t have to look down your noses at us. And please stop trying to de-meat us.
How about we make a deal, fanatics? For your part, you have to pull back on the reins of your fervor. Too much dogged enthusiasm can lead to people doing foolish and dangerous things, and I’d hate for you to get in trouble. You also have to stop trying to enlighten people unless they ask to be enlightened.
For my part, I won’t ever try to convince you to stop believing in your deity of choice, nor will I try and convince you to eat a piece of fried chicken. If we aren’t hurting anyone, ourselves included, let’s all just do our own thing and let other people do their own thing. Deal?

Rachel Birdsell is a freelance writer and artist. You can drop her a line at rabirdsell@gmail.com

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