In one of many abortive travel plans made over these past months, I was attempting to travel to Tbilisi in Georgia.
Arranging accommodation, I found myself in contact with someone living there. In their profile, they had written the following:
“Cautious of fanatics. Not into idealising.”
Instantly one can safely conclude that this person is not unbearable, as the majority of fanatics and idealists are.
As I have written before, I count only five friends made during my time at University of Brighton. Only two were friends made at the university itself. (The other three were homeless gentlemen.)
Fanaticism. Fanatics! Anyone less fanatical than they are racist, sexist or homophobic.
In Guernsey, over the summer holidays after my first-year of university, I helped a friend move some stuff from his mother’s house. In repayment, he kindly dreadlocked my hair.
Returning to university in second-year, I thought I was the dog’s bollocks, what with my big black boots, brown dungarees with shirt and tie underneath, and dreadlocked hair to top it off.
Well, some did not think so. I was told by my two true friends that this had upset some of the students – whom I thought I was on friendly terms with – who were calling me racist, for “appropriating Rastafari culture”.
Aside from being dumb, as Muslims and Christians and pagans alike have sported dreadlocked hair for millennia, it encapsulates the ridiculousness of fanatics. Fanatics see the world only through the lens of their idealism, obscuring reality as it actually is, making everything black-white, right-wrong, good-evil.
Anyhow, in an attempt to shave the sides of my head after a tipple too many, I shaved one of the dreads off and ended up shaving my head completely. I wonder, did that make me a white supremacist for appropriating skinhead culture?
On that note, I have an inspirational friend, who upon moving to Latvia lived just outside the capital Riga, next to some biker folk. The bikers happen to be the skinhead white supremacist types, and did not take to my friend, who is a Samoan chef. I call him the Samoan Prince.
Despite receiving abuse, threats, and all the rest of it, my friend stuck it out where he was. He still served them food, allowing the abuse to bounce off his big frame. He did not and does not complain. He has lived life enough to realise you do not solve problems by complaining, or crying ‘racism’. And these are some bona fide racists, not just those dodgy dreadlocked types.
Long and short of the story, the Samoan Prince ingratiated himself with the gang, with his steadfastness and good-naturedness, and was eventually invited to cook at the wider biker gang’s meet, which he gladly did.
This is inspirational. This is actually combatting racism: he did not complain or cry foul, he turned the tables and he cooked for the white supremacists who had racially abused him. That is some Jesus-level wholesomeness right there.
Rather than absorb and reflect their negativity with complaints, he projected positivity with his actions, and this exemplary behaviour and bravery had them rethink their views. At the gang’s event, his biker friends let it be known to the rest of the gang that he was not to be abused, he is ‘one of them’. He enjoyed many a party with them, and has made lifelong allies as a result.
Another brand of fanatic: preachy vegans. Shudder.
(Disclaimer: I have spent the majority of the last year eating vegan, and after a meat-feast few weeks in Latvia, I’m getting back on the wagon.)
There is something repugnant about moralisers. It is why many in our societies have turned against organised religion, understandably so. Moralising has become the pastime of many a vegan, who mistakenly assume that preaching and painting meat-eaters as uniquely dumb or evil is going to further their cause in a meaningful manner.
Spoiler alert! It does just the opposite.
In my own case, my family were concerned I would lose weight or become malnourished or this or that. I actually gained some weight, lost some chub, became stronger, and felt better for it.
Maybe my example has made a few friends and family rethink the whole veganism thing? Who knows. Who cares! All I know is the action and positive example itself will do far more to normalise veganism than condemning meat-eaters as murderers. Aside from being bollocks, it just won’t do the job fanatics wish it would. That negativity will swing back round to you.
Want people to consider veganism? Don’t force it down people’s throats! There is plenty of information out there if people want to access it. Live the example proudly and positively, without preaching and without complaining – be like the Samoan Prince.
Another example from university, of fanatics destructively skewing reality. One from a second-year seminar, about the time I decided to say what I think and believe rather than nodding along with whatever was being said. It was a discussion regarding the British Riots of 2011.
In a class of roughly ten, I was the only person who openly condemned the abhorrent, animal-like behaviour of the ‘protestors’ in the wake of the police killing of Mark Duggan.
Protestors exist and protest is often justified, don’t get me wrong. The problem is these words are more commonly used as cover-words for the degenerates who think it is acceptable to set alight to property, loot businesses and throw bricks at police – the first people they would call if they were victims of the same degeneracy.
Fanaticism is required to excuse and encourage this sort of behaviour. Ask a child whether assault and arson are okay. They are blessed with the ethical wherewithal to work out that, no, it is not okay. It is naughty.
Again, negativity does not solve the issue, certainly not in that manner. “Quickly! Let’s solve complex societal issues by stealing and burning stuff!”
The proper fanatics at university – not the standard nod-along types – were all clad in black, reeking of resentment, bad life decisions, and animosity towards all who dare not comply with their ideas.
The anarchists. Shudder.
One anarchist, dumbfoundingly, was being trained as a seminar tutor, and was particularly vicious. She took our last seminar of a certain semester on critical theory – which is traced through Kant to Hegel to Feuerbach and so on – by seething that, “You have only studied racist white men.” She taught us about some domestic terrorist activities carried out by whatever fanatics, whom she celebrated with glee.
I once disagreed with her openly about certain stickers the anarchists were sticking around the university, which glorified violence against police, and, who could forget, the classic ‘ACAB’ (All Cops Are B*****ds).
Making my way out the building after the seminar, she and her cronies confronted me for daring to do so. Fortunately, the anarchists are all scrawny, malnourished twerps. I have faced off with more imposing sheep. And sheep they are.
Again, sorry for the spoiler, but here goes.
These people will never usher in a stateless society. They will not affect positive change in the world. They won’t even be able to forge a meaningful or positive relationship with another human being – one who isn’t totally possessed by the same sort of psychopathic fanaticism, anyhow. Unless they are blessed by a moment of clarity, their cult will continue careering down its path of disappointment and resentment. Though they will ever admit it, it is plain to see.
Their behaviour is sheep-like. They succumb to the natural but evolutionarily outdated urge to blindly follow the tribal group that is right and good, whilst deriding unaligned groups as wrong and evil.
I am not saying that veganism has no moral credibility, which I think it does; or that racists are not in the wrong, which I think they are; or that there are not legitimate reasons to protest, of which there are plenty.
What am I saying? Simply, you do not change minds, nor do you change the world, with fanaticism, by projecting negativity into the world, by casting a good versus evil template upon it. You change it with positive examples, and with civilised discussion and persuasion.
Gandhi asked us to, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Gandhi notably did not ask us to, “Complain about the change you want to see in the world, burn what you will and insult who you can in the meantime.”
Fanatics may say they want peace and happiness, and that they are a force for positive change, but they enact the opposite: they hold the world up to their own standards, fight fanatically for these standards, and create a good versus evil divide between their fanatical sect and everyone else, making communication, debate and persuasion difficult and unenjoyable at best, impossible at worst.
Everything from veganism to racism to protest are no longer problematic issues, far from nuanced situations requiring discussion, debate and resolution – they become good versus evil. This is how fanatics poison our well.
Where positive examples do not suffice, and arguments must be had, surely small-scale pot-shot battles with constant communication and effort toward resolution are preferable to full-scale wars with no communication channels?
Just my two pennies’ worth. I’m aware they won’t buy much within our somewhat confrontational times.
If you want one sure-fire takeaway from this article: fanatics are not fun people to have a beer, a conversation or a chirp with.
Be cautious of fanatics.
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