19 DAYS OF REFLECTION
“Haste makes waste” is a proverb that first made its appearance in England way back in 1546 and through the centuries it has remained a constant, its use evolving with the tides of time. It is a challenge in our increasingly polarized world — where knee-jerk reactions to almost everything are fueled on by the algorithms of social media — to navigate the path of moderation without being castigated by those pledging their allegiance to extreme points of view. Moderation is defined as “the state or instance of being moderate; mildness; balanced … If you say that someone’s behaviour shows moderation, you approve of them because they act in a way that you think is reasonable and not extreme.” (Collins) “We must remember balance and moderation” writes Steve Maraboli but warns “Patience can be spiritually enriching and virtuous… but when taken in excess, it turns to procrastination, the poison of inaction.” Aristotle’s theory of the Golden Mean — that virtue is to be found between extremes — is especially relevant in these fractious times.
Take the Slow Movement, which emerged in the 1980’s, for example. Geir Berthelsen describes it as “a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting.” (Wikipedia) Norwegian Guttorm Fløistad summarise it this way: “The only thing for certain is that everything changes. The rate of change increases. If you want to hang on you better speed up. That is the message of today. It could however be useful to remind everyone that our basic needs never change. The need to be seen and appreciated! It is the need to belong. The need for nearness and care, and for a little love! This is given only through slowness in human relations. In order to master changes, we have to recover slowness, reflection and togetherness. There we will find real renewal.” (Wikipedia) Slow Food which emerged out of the Slow Movement epitomizes the grow local, think global ethos. By focusing on quality, over quantity, and doing so by slowing down, we can better appreciate the bounties that our planet has to offer all of humanity.
“Extremities are flawed.
Moderation is ideal, save for one occasion.
So damn these eyes that weep too much.
This mind that thinks too much.
But never this heart that loves too much.”
― Kamand Kojouri
“The cardinal virtues are self-control, moderation,
kindness, generosity, justice, and truthfulness tempered by discretion”
― Miriam Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature, Volume I: The Old and Middle Kingdoms
“When we feel lonely, when we feel hopeless, what we want to do is to move to the right or the left. We don’t want to sit and feel what we feel. We don’t want to go through the detox. Yet the middle way encourages us to do just that. It encourages us to awaken the bravery that exists in everyone without exception, including you and me.”
― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
“Our world does not need tepid souls. It needs burning hearts, men who know the proper place of moderation.”
― Albert Camus
“The man who shuns and fears everything and stands up to nothing becomes a coward; the man who is afraid of nothing at all, but marches up to every danger becomes foolhardy. Similarly the man who indulges in pleasure and refrains from none becomes licentious (akolastos); but if a man behaves like a boor (agroikos) and turns his back on every pleasure, he is a case of insensibility. Thus temperance and courage are destroyed by excess and deficiency and preserved by the mean.”
― Aristotle , The Nicomachean Ethics
Illustration: Red-cheeked Cordonbleu (Uraeginthus Bengalus) illustrated by Charles Dessalines d’Orbigny (1806–1876). Digitally enhanced from the 1892 edition of the “Dictionnaire universel d’histoire naturelle”.