Back to Basics: ModerationWritten by Charles Baugher | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I cannot remember where I heard the saying, and feel bad that I am unable to give them the due credit for their quote, but here it is; “In all things, moderation”. Was it Aristotle or Pascal? Living in a culture where all schema of thought is categorized into one side or the other, it is hard to be a “moderate”. It does not seem to matter where you look. In politics, those on one side or the other seem to get the most voice. We are forever pushing the boundaries of rhetoric and debate. This goes for our personal lives as well. In dieting, we jump to extreme diets which eliminate any notion of a balanced meal. In Sports, baseball is no longer enough; instead we turn to “extreme sports” of one type or another. In television we no longer yearn for intriguing plots and a well-acted story, but instead tune in to the latest reality shows which seem to forever be pushing the limits of what one would call decent. In music we have forgotten what an emotion evoking piece sounds like. Instead we use synthesizers and distortion to create even harder or more aggressive song.
Psychologists state that humans have a “threshold of excitation”. This means that each of us have a certain level of stimulation that we must reach in order to generate an elevated sense of … you name it. We have become a culture that has forgotten the value of moderation and balance, and we forever push ourselves to the next level. Contentment, moderation, and balance are words that have been relegated to the sidelines and rarely come out except in self-help books and religious textbooks. We constantly ride the next wave of excitement, forever pushing the poles of reason to new levels and distancing us from any sort of center.
Unfortunately, this quest for excitation has pervaded even or thought at its core. For instance, why can’t we be both hard working and build business, yet still build our society and care for our fellow human? Why can’t we strive for more, yet reach down to help and love those who society has forgotten? Why does everything have to be a fight with one side or the other becoming victor? Why is compromise and moderation in government and policies so frowned upon and seen as a sign of weakness?
Moderation, prayer, meditation, love, caring, balance… these things do not stimulate our nervous system to a point of being pushed to a new level of euphoria. Holding views in tension or taking a balanced approach (acknowledging that there is no one magic answer), well, just is not as much fun. Understanding that there is such a thing as the both-and or something in between has lost its place in both our though and language. The thought of having to hold views in tension no longer exists.
Fortunately, humans are not magnets with poles at one end or the other. Humans are made in the image of God who calls us to be “both-and”. Jesus himself was both human and divine; both transcendent and immanent. And he was a moderate. He said we do need rules, but not legalism. He said we need to respect government but also need to hold it accountable as he spoke out against glaring injustices. We are to be the best that we can be and co-creators with God, but not leave anyone behind in the process. We need to be human and earn a living, but we also called to be something greater. These were certainly radical ideas for Jesus’ day and culture (and perhaps even today) but are moderate in the grand scheme of what it means to be human. That is because in the sense of basic moderation, in the center of our core being is our spirit founded in love. And only in this moderate center can we step back and see the both-and. Here in the center lies three even less exciting words; cooperation, mutuality, and understanding. And there lies the spirit of cooperation and mutuality that builds society, churches, and schools and calls our society to something greater than it is.
Charles Baugher was born in Kansas City, MO and moved to Toledo while a teenager. He is married and a proud father of three children. He graduated from Rogers High School, then Lourdes College with a BA in Theology. He is currently serving Calvary United Methodist Church and studying for a Master of Divinity Degree at Methodist Theological School in Ohio.