Moderation is the silken string running through the pearl chain of all virtues. Joseph Hall
Moderation in ADF is defined as “Cultivating one's appetites so that one is neither a slave to them nor driven to ill health (mental or physical), through excess or deficiency." Seems simple enough on the surface, yet I can’t help but feel that this definition is a bit limiting. I am a big proponent of moderation in all things, even moderation; always have been. The way this definition is worded though specifies “one’s appetites”. This then focuses on things like food, drink, drugs, and sex. These are the safe things; the easy things that most people in most cultures will agree should be carried out with moderation. But what of things like anger, love, generosity, education, exercise, cleanliness, control and reward and punishment? These are things that I feel also need to know the virtue of moderation but don’t fall clearly under the title of “appetites”. I think we would all agree that anger needs moderation. Without it bad and often unjust things happen. People die every day to un-moderated anger. What of love you ask? Love also needs to be moderated. I define love as “putting the needs of another above your own.” With this definition in mind, is it not possible to see how a lack of moderation in love will cause a person harm? They will become a slave to the one they love, always putting themselves last. In this way they don’t get enough of why they need to flourish and be happy. Let us look at one more; moderation in control. Many times in my life, almost daily, I see people struggle to control every aspect of themselves, of their life, of things that they logically have no control over. Most often it’s the other people in their life. It’s one thing to try and help a person see the effects of their behavior, it’s another to manipulate them into doing what you want. I never could control my mother’s drinking, or my father’s smoking. I never tried to control it. I figured out from early on that it wasn’t anything I was or wasn’t doing that made them drink or smoke. I can’t control my ex-wife’s burst of anger and vengeance. I can’t control their behavior; I can have moderation in my response to it though.
All that being said, there are times when moderation must be discarded and extremes must happen. Sadly there are simply times when the extreme is necessary to bring things back into balance and back to moderation in the bigger picture. War might be an example of this. Though I do not condone war, I do believe there are times when it is necessary. It may be that getting drunk is necessary and is in fact the moderate response. Moderation is the overall theme of life, but there are those rare occasions when moderation must be put aside. Moderation is the key to living a balanced life, and a balanced life is a good life.