Fanatic…who me?

A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.  Sir Winston Churchill

The word fanatic conjures images of dogmatic, inward looking, near crazy and deeply religious individuals who are filled with hate for the non believers, passionate about their own beliefs and committed to kill or be killed for their beliefs. While the stereo type of a fanatic is ideally caricatured in this mould, fanatics are not confined to the religious beliefs of people, although that is the most visible type of fanatic. The unfortunate part is that there are equally bad groups of fanatics, who in fact have a cult following be it sports fan followers, Maoists, naxalites or regional sons of the soil theory goons. They have a limited agenda in as much as they want to propound their beliefs on the population to the extent they can reach.

As is rightly said, they are so dogmatic that they wont see reason, they will be wedded to their cause, concoct facts to suit their beliefs and they are prepared to die for their beliefs. Most fanatics believe that dying for their cause is the ultimate proof of their staunch faith and a necessary sacrifice to attain their ultimate goal. Fear is the key to fanaticism. They fear their cause will be diluted if not enforced by hook or by crook; they use fear to ensure that everyone toes their line; they fear humiliation if they do not stand up for their beliefs and they ensure that fear of eternal damnation will psychological coercion the fence sitters and the non committal.

The strength of a fanatic is his/ her ability to creatively rationalize the available facts to suit their beliefs. Like the devil quoting the scriptures, they can refute logic and convince themselves by sheer pigheadedness. To reinforce their beliefs they will resort to continuously and incessantly talking on their beliefs partly to convince the available audience but chiefly to reinforce their own beliefs. The fanatic will blindly follow, relentlessly push his/ her agenda and would not hesitate to wipe out all those who cannot toe their line or those whom they perceive to be threats to their beliefs. The growing threat of religious fanaticism is what the new age paranoia is.

The weakness of the fanatic is ‘paranoia’. They fear divine retribution, they fear themselves being overrun by a majority, they fear injustice and annihilation and most of all they fear they might lose their faith in their own beliefs. Take the case of football fans of a football club. When they lose they blame the referees, the betting syndicates, the quality of play on the day etc. but they cannot get themselves to believe that they were outplayed by a superior team. Similarly if age old customs and practices which are irrational and illegal by the norms of modern society are banned by the authorities of the day, there would be stiff resistance by the fanatics who would rather follow tradition than be pragmatic and rational.

However much we may call ourselves rational we too very much guilty of being fanatics in our own ways; by being prisoners of superstitions, by our substantial belief in the occult science including horoscopes, palmistry and numerology, through our prejudices of caste, creed and color and by being clannish and parochial in our dealings and interactions.

Remember: “A fanatic is a man that does what he thinks the Lord would do if He knew the facts of the case.”

Try these:

  1. Ask yourself if you read your horoscope regularly. Why do you do it ? Can you completely avoid it?
  2. Jot down at  least 3 things you will be ready to die for. Why will you die for it? Do you thing you can do a better job for that cause without dying? If yes how can you do it and if not why do you say so.

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