The Passionate Zeal of the Rebel Outcast – A Question for the League
Here’s a question for the group: Have you ever stood strongly for something – almost militantly so – that you now stand equally strongly against?
Let me explain.
In a conversation over at Blinded Trials, Jaybird made an observation about atheists that I know is far from a universal truth, but which I recognize as so often true that it is close to being a cliche: the militant atheist who was once a member of the devout.
I think that this cliche happens in any walk of life where there are true believers. The far-right conservatives I have known that are the most hostile to liberals were almost all far-left progressives first. The same is true in the vise versa – or at least it is for older progressives. The people I have known that were once the biggest pro-smoking advocates are the only people I know who now go out of their way to explain in great detail how awful smoking is for me, despite the fact that I have never smoked.
I once remember a talk I watched on PBS where James Randi described a physicist that worked for the military, decades ago, who had created an illusionary reality in which he was from another dimension. The military needed him on the project he was working on, and so they hired a shrink to work with him. The shrink tried to bring him back to reality by asking increasingly detailed questions about the culture, politics and environment of the fictional dimension in the hopes of catching the physicist in a discrepancy. But the more detailed the physicist became, the more the various notes matched all the other various notes. And then one day the physicist just woke up and said, “My bad,” and was back to normal. The shrink could not accept this, and argued for weeks afterward that the fictional dimension did in fact exist. When I think of this story, I wonder to what degree we are hardwired to make sure that we keep the seesaw of our belief/non-belief in balance, and how the farther out on one end we start out, the farther out we will be on the other side should we ever change our minds.
And so I’m curious to know in this group, as passionately as its members wear its convictions on its sleeve, where we have turned to rebel against those things in life we once felt we would never budge on.
For me, it’s being a Big Green Egg user.
The first time I was ever aware of the BGE, I was still living in our old neighborhood. A new shop had opened up, and it had signs up inviting people to come by on the weekends and witness them using the best barbecue ever. I went the first weekend, and was convinced it was a sham. The Big Green Egg was ugly, overly simplistic, and sold at a laughingly absurd price point. I remember telling friends and coworkers about what I’d discovered, and mocked the idea of anyone being stupid enough to spend the money required to buy one. Every now and then I’d meet someone that owned an Egg, and would roll my eyes as they proselytized, trying to convince me that I needed one.
A year or two later, my brother in law bought one, and for six months I made fun of him over the phone and email. And then I visited he and my sister in Oklahoma, and used it with him, and what’s more – and this was where I had my downfall – I ate of the
fruit Egg. The Egg was so awesome – if you wanted to make pulled pork or ribs, it could hold a 180’ temperature for a day without tending. And if you wanted a steakhouse quality steak, you good quickly get the sucker up to over 900-1,000’, a al a Ruth’s Chris grill.
I was an instant and thorough convert. A year later we were building a house, and I made but two financial demands of my wife when we were budgeting what the house could and couldn’t afford: I wanted built-in speakers throughout the house, and I wanted a Big Green Egg. It was delivered the weekend we moved in, and over the past two years I have used it more than I have used all the other barbecues, grills, and smokers I have ever owned combined.
Now I am that guy that talks about my Egg all the time, and am always trying to think of who we know that we haven’t yet invited over for something made on my deck. I look back at the foolish anti-BGE man I used to be, and am glad to be free of him.
So, what about you? What was your big conversion?