Sunday, November 15, 2009

Everything in Moderation, Including Moderation - Wise Words


     The Buddha once said, “Moderation in everything, including moderation itself.” I personally view this as a great philosophical quote, and use this as a guiding principle in my life, to the best of my ability.

     Why is this moderation a good idea in principle? What are the limitations of this entire statement? Are there really any limitations on this as a creed?

     To begin with the validity of this principle, I argue that it is an excellent idea. It is my belief and observation that extremism is the cause of much of the discord and strife in the world.
     Putting this on a micro scale, is it the things that people are willing to “agree to disagree” on or the polarizing issues that end friendships? Of course, it is the extreme latter that dissolves amicable relations. On a personal note, it is my extremely outgoing (extroverted) nature that puts people off; I often have trouble communicating with extremely introverted individuals, because we are just so different that we cannot communicate. As extremism is degrading in inter-personal relations, so too does degrade foreign relations.
     Typically, when two nations come to a negotiating table, they have set demands that they claim they will not yield on. After long days, the trend is towards one of two outcomes; either they both moderate and walk away on better terms, or they both become hostilely extremist and lose ground. Simply in principle, moderation is a good idea. The true wisdom of the statement comes in the second part of the statement.

    “Moderation in everything, including moderation itself.” If we accept the entire statement in principle, there is an inherent limit placed on the statement. The second clause basically nullifies the statement, “Moderation in everything,” as there are obviously exceptions because of the statement “including moderation itself.” Translated: moderation is the overriding principle, but you can be moderately extreme, determined when and where you feel it is right or needed.
    Personally, I find that this second clause is needed. I am wary of absolute statements, and feel that there is never any singular correct answer. To quote the wise Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars Episode III, “Only the Sith deal in absolutes.” Of course, this, by nature, is a contradictory statement, as he is a Jedi (or is he? By his logic, he is a Sith). The way I interpret his statement is as follows: Absolutes are a thing to be avoided, because they are rarely true, and are far more than true very damaging. The limitation placed on, “Moderation in everything,” is needed and good in my mind.

    The inverse of this is (ironically) an absolute statement that I agree with (mostly). By the limitations being placed on itself by the second clause, there are no limitations. You see, this idea of “everything, but not,” has no ability to be disproven. The freedom of this statement means that moderation is allowed to be a guiding principle, but exceptions are always present. The previous sentence is an apparent absolute, but, using the “everything, but not,” logic it is not an absolute; generally there is a situation where there are two options or more, but sometimes there are situations where there is no exception, and the statement is nullified. Hence, the logic is proven again.
     As a creed, it makes sense to embrace such an open statement. By freeing yourself from an absolute, you open yourself up to possibilities and interpretations (by the very definition of an absolute). Acknowledging that there are limitations on everything, usually, means that generally absolutes are incorrect, and opens the mind to conceive of other possibilities. Exclusivity of thought is not something I agree with at all, and is to be avoided (in my mind). This is one of a few absolutes that I embrace, keeping with the idea of moderation, with exceptions.

     In short, the point is that moderation is everything, usually. Moderation in everything can have qualifiers, and does when you acknowledge the second clause. By these qualifiers, you permit other possibilities and allow an openness of mind that avoids absolutism of thought and of actions.

    I hope you found this article moderately enjoyable, and have a very nice (exception to the rule) day.

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