Society’s seemingly endless bickering and beliefs-oriented violence achieves nothing constructive and further serves to create divisiveness in our world. While contemplating the current epidemic of political/religious extremism, the concept of moderation comes to mind.
Moderation has become demeaned so much that many people associate the word with fence sitting on important issues; being wishy-washy, non-committal, and prudish. However, in so far as practicality and getting along, moderation is generally the best option. Moderation has been getting a bad rap lately, so it’s time to tweak the vocabulary a bit. I posit that the words, “the golden mean” should be substituted in place of “moderation”.
In the West, the golden mean has roots in Ancient Greece; whereas the Delphic Oracles advised “nothing in excess”. Aristotelians employed it later on. Mathematicians define the golden mean as a division in a line of which the proportion of the whole of the larger area equals the proportion of the larger area to the smaller area. Philosophically, we can think of this taking place within the territory of our mind instead of only through mathematics and geometry.
We can find examples of its use in architecture and the other arts–including philosophy. In philosophical reckoning, the golden mean advocates avoiding extremes of deficiency and excess. The balance between the two extremes is the best approach to life in general. In Eastern thought, the concept of the “Middle Way” expresses a similar approach to life.
“Whoever cultivates the golden mean avoids both the poverty of a hovel and the envy of a palace.”–Horace
When we look objectively at the extremes Horace referred to, we understand that poverty is a grueling, dehumanizing condition and that excessive wealth fosters envy, pride and feeds further greediness. When we apply the golden mean to our economic lives, we are better able to find harmony between our lifestyle and conscience. That is, we have no wants for basic necessities nor have cravings for extravagance and excess. In my opinion, to follow the golden mean leads to constructive contentment and more happiness in life.
Hopefully, today’s blog post is not too short nor too wordy; but just long enough to trigger your own contemplation.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Henry David Thoreau. “The golden mean in ethics, as in physics, is the centre of the system and that about which all revolve, and though to a distant and plodding planet it be an uttermost extreme, yet one day, when that planet’s year is completed, it will be found to be central.”