I closed my post about writing more, but less, with the observation that sometimes the titular maxim doesn’t apply. That is, depending on the situation, something overly short might be infeasible or inappropriate. Consider, for instance, whether it is appropriate to reduce a research paper, backed by hours of careful study, and which might not necessarily be generalizable, to a single short sensational news headline.
This lead me to think about another maxim I like, which is the title of this post:
Everything in moderation, including this.
That is: for most things, it’s good to be somewhere in the middle.
I was reading about Buddhism the other day and learned a bit about its Middle Way, which is basically this.
I think about this when considering the politics of my country, the United States, which are dominated by just two major parties, the Democratic and the Republican. Each party has its own position on major issues. And while I do often lean towards a certain one of those two parties, I find there are many issues where my position is more nuanced. Indeed, I would find it very surprising if, for every issue, I found myself completely agreeing with the same party’s position.
I think about this when deciding whether to spend or save the income that I am lucky enough to be earning. To spend it all would be irresponsible and unwise, but to save it all would be to deny myself a great deal of enjoyment and leisure during a time when I am still relatively young, healthy, and able to enjoy new experiences. I do not wish to begin living my life only once I retire.
Lastly, I think about this when faced with the “exceptions” to this maxim. That is, the situations in which it is better to take an extreme view, rather than a moderated one. But note that these “exceptions” are not even exceptions, since the maxim itself, “Everything in moderation, including this”, exhorts us to exercise moderation in the very act of exercising moderation.
A good example of such an “exception” is when dealing with hatred and intolerance. Indeed, this is the paradox of tolerance. If we are tolerant of those who are intolerant, they will take over and destroy the ability to be tolerant. We must, then, be not moderated in this case, and categorically reject intolerance.