Our desire to achieve something beyond easy reach, or to attain an objective far from the usual routine gathers enough backing of an unwavering focus and enthusiasm. The resulting urge takes the shape of zeal.
A word of caution here, though: the pursuit of creative goals alone is an expression of zeal, whereas destructive intent makes us over-zealous. As far back as our research capabilities permit, we can find umpteen numbers of treatises written on this subject. Over here, I am making a humble attempt to bring to light a few of these, so we may refresh our memory and gain a more in-depth insight to help mold our approach to life.
Charles Buxton, the 19th-Century British Member of Parliament, Writer, and Philanthropist, left behind a treasure-trove of wisdom in his writings. Among so many of his outstanding pieces of sage advice, we find one that makes a direct impact on the way we conduct our affairs. It goes like this, “Experience shows that success is due less to ability than to zeal. The winner is he who gives himself to his work, body, and soul.”
Those zealous enough always display an inordinate measure of commitment to a given assignment. These are the individuals that go the extra mile. Looking closely at our surroundings, we can find enough examples of such fool-hardy, dedicated people. They fought against multiple forces of adversity, stood their ground, and ultimately achieved success where the odds were clearly against them, in no small measure. Let us consider Ben Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the modern-day, independent America we inhabit today. His life history is replete with anecdotal references to the hardships he faced while growing up. Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Nelson Mandela, former U.S. President Andrew Jackson, the United States’ first secretary of the treasury, Alexander Hamilton, and innumerable other exceptionally zealous individuals stand witness to the power of this human trait.
Through zeal, knowledge is gotten; through lack of zeal, knowledge is lost; let a man who knows the double path of gain and loss, thus place himself that knowledge may grow.
Once we set ourselves on the path to gainful knowledge, our zeal will automatically render the naysayers speechless. As already mentioned earlier, the negative side of enthusiasm can have drastic repercussions. Alas, we see it in the growing fanaticism that promotes terrorism. These unfortunate people are no less devoted, but for a destructive cause. Because of a lack of knowledge, these anti-social elements become pawns in the hands of manipulative forces. They sell their souls to the devil hiding behind empty promises of luxurious life in a so-called ‘heaven’ (if it even exists.) Little wonder, the following words sound so true:
Zeal is very blind, or badly regulated when it encroaches upon the rights of others.
In the above paragraph, we find ample proof of misguided zeal that takes a heavy toll on human life, for no rhyme or reason, whatsoever. It is not my intent to glorify or highlight such conduct in any form or manner, whether implied or otherwise. However, I would certainly expect my discerning readers, writers, thinkers, and change-makers to encourage others to nurture only the creative aspect of our thoughts at each stage of life.
More often than not, it is the common folk; individuals like us that feel obligated to gather the necessary courage to voice our opinion and to take action. We feel obliged to plant the seeds of mutual love, respect, cooperation, and togetherness. The onus is upon us to uphold the values that society at large allows us to grow in an ambient environment, under demanding situations.
Every little step each one of us takes in this direction will help us create an unending road to all-round prosperity, thus leaving no room for the opportunists to create havoc. Why should I, as an individual, get involved in this non-remunerative ask, you may ask. My direct and straightforward answer lies in this proverb: “Zeal is fit only for the wise but is found mostly in fools.”
Kahlil Gibran, the Lebanese-American Writer/Philosopher, referred to ‘zeal’ in such beautiful words: “Zeal is a volcano, the peak of which the grass of indecisiveness does not grow.” The lesson I could personally gather from the above quote, one crucial takeaway, refers to the elimination of indecisiveness from our lives. Of course, our iron-will to succeed in any specific mission becomes the catalyst to enduring action. The enthusiasm at the core of such decisive action protects us against all the rumination of critics. Is there any room left for compromise in a situation like that, I doubt it?
Let us take the lead from this impactful message from Owen Feltham, the 17th-Century English writer: “Zeal without humanity is like a ship without a rudder, liable to be stranded at any moment.”
In much the same way a ship needs its rudder for navigation, the society too needs sound, constructive zeal across all spheres of our lives. Building such intensity into a daily habit will handily give us the necessary direction as and when required. More often than not, we shall be able to find our way through challenges, without seeking outside help, or even getting mowed down unnecessarily.