When I was growing up, my mom preached moderation.  You eat only what you need for sustenance. When you grow up, you drink alcohol but only in moderation. In times of tension, the tempered response is advisable. 

This past week, the Obama Administration lifted travel restrictions to Cuba for Cuban Americans. What seemed like a moderate measure stirred up a lot of discussion in the Cuban community and beyond. Not everyone considers this action moderate.  

Compared to lifting all U.S. trade sanctions, this decision was moderate. Compared to letting all U.S. Citizens travel to Cuba regardless of ethnicity, this act was tempered. 

The fact remains that your moderate may be my radical. You may not bat an eye at my outrageous and I might be freaked out by your daily habit. 

We think we know what moderation looks and feels like.  And we might have walked right by Sue Curtis from England. If you don’t know, Curtis walked outside her house for the first time in 18 years. How would you really know that Curtis was engaged in a herculean act instead of an everyday commute?  What looked like a moderate act was actually Curtis tackling her greatest fear.

My moderate is profoundly rooted in the good lessons of my mother. And I am clear that my moderate and your moderate are different.  When it comes to moderation, we cannot assume we share the same vision of  that place somewhere between here and there. 


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One response to “Moderate

  1. peter lynch

    one of the great latin aphorisms, the one to which desiderius erasmus exerts himself at the greatest length in his “adages,” parses moderation as an internal contradiction. “festina lente” the saying goes; “make haste slowly.” erasmus notes the emperor augustus’ fondness for this advice, and his tendency to apply it to decision making. ‘don’t waste time,’ one might paraphrase it, ‘but don’t rush, either.’ moderation, in this view, consists of navigating a positive path between negatives. we all–perhaps even pres. ahmadinejad, hard as some may find that to swallow–want to do the right thing. agreeing on the moderate course runs afoul of a broad agreement on the ideal and the utterly contemptible. the beauty of moderation is that it tries to grant everyone their humanity; if ever a day comes that everyone agrees on everything, something of our basic nature will have been lost. in the meantime, let’s hear it for those who respectfully seek the middle ground, honoring everyone’s humanity in the process–contra-dictions included.

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