According to the Meridiam-Webster Dictionary Online, a zealous person is defined as being a fanatical partisan. I am not completely satisfied with that definition, so I looked up the term “zealot” in the Oxford English Dictionary: “one who pursues his object with passionate ardour; usually in disparaging sense, one who is carried away by excess of zeal; an immoderate partisan, a fanatical enthusiast. ” Some may be proud to identify with that sort of definition, but I am not one of them.
“Passionate ardour” . . . good . . . check. “Disparaging” . . . not good . . . hazard. “Carried away” . . . not good . . . counter-productive when outside the zealous nest. “Immoderate partisan” . . . not good . . . hasn’t worked well in our own political system . . . “Fanatical” . . . not good . . . extremists are viewed suspiciously.
So how do we pursue our object with passionate ardor and not become engulfed by the potentially negative current of the zeal mire? Why is zealotry counter-productive? Why should I not behave like a radical? Well, you’ve heard the term “preaching to the choir” right? Now, I love the choir (I am a professional opera singer by trade). A good choir is melodious, has rhythmic integrity, is musical, has a wide range of skills, can sing high soft loud low, and so on and so forth. But when the choir does nothing but yell at the top of its lungs with little attention to melody, rhythm, tone quality, skill, and precision, then people stop listening.
I don’t ever want to be confused with being a zealot with regard to maternal-child awareness, advocacy, education, and support. I don’t know all of the facts. I don’t have all of the answers. Doling out advice only works so well. And I am a learner – a life-long learner. So I will always be learning, researching, analyzing, scrutinizing, and examining.
I promise you that.