Thursday, September 27, 2012


I noticed, the other day, that there are quite a large number of draft posts sitting around in a folder on this blog. 70 of them, to be exact. Well, 69 as of today. I've decided to make it a goal to clear out that folder and move as many of them as are worth it to the published folder. I'm sure that most of them will be deleted.

This one almost was. I mean, all I had was "middle way is being lost" and "whether its class or political".

Not much to go on.

After all, there was almost no indication of what I had been thinking which prompted me to write down that paucity of words.

Aside - I like Toastmasters. Really. I do. They do great work, and have a format that works for many people. I was first introduced to them a number of years ago by a good friend of mine who brought me to one of their meetings. When I was there, their "word of the day" was paucity. We were asked to get up and try to use it in a sentence. The first guy got up and said "Paucity is a city in northern Manitoba", making a pun on the name "The Pas", which, for some odd reason is pronounced as if it something at the end of a dog's leg. The next attempts made me wonder if they really knew what the word meant. When they asked me to get up, I said, and I have no idea why, except that maybe I'm a smart alec, "The scarcity of paucity will necessarily lead, you see, to what must be veracity." See? It wasn't really a tangent. Just an aside.

And now back to our regularly scheduled topic.

Moderation is such an interesting thing. As we all know, there is a lot in the Writings about moderation, and its importance. The most famous of these quotes is, no doubt, from Gleanings, where Baha'u'llah says, "It is incumbent upon them who are in authority to exercise moderation in all things. Whatsoever passeth beyond the limits of moderation will cease to exert a beneficial influence." Most often when this passage is quoted, it is only the second half that is used. Given more and more of what I am seeing in the world, I think that it is vital to include the first half, too. You see, positions of authority do not only include those of government, but also those in corporate situations, as well as management positions. They include the leaders of the Boy Scouts, as well as coaches in Little League. They include teachers and doctors. They include any position in which one can exercise a degree of control or influence over another. And there are countless stories of those in such positions abusing that authority. If we would learn the depth of these two sentences, so much abuse of this power would simply disappear.

Another place where Baha'u'llah speaks about moderation is in Tablets of Baha'ul'lah. "Human utterance", He says, "is an essence which aspireth to exert its influence and needeth moderation. As to its influence, this is conditional upon refinement which in turn is dependent upon hearts which are detached and pure. As to its moderation, this hath to be combined with tact and wisdom as prescribed in the Holy Scriptures and Tablets." Even in speaking, it is so important to remember this moderation, for when we speak we can so easily influence others.

That is the essence of this, to me. We need to be especially careful to use moderation when we are in a position in which we can influence others. That is the theme that seems to run through all these quotes, to me. It seems to be yet another area in which the importance of free-will, and the freedom to choose for oneself, is ensured within the Writings.

Perhaps there is no area in human interaction in which this freedom to choose is more important than in the dispensation of justice. When a person transgresses the limits imposed upon them by society, it is the justice system that takes over the limitation of their actions, generally through imprisonment. But, as we have seen all too often, this system can be corrupted.

And in the arena of education, the interest of justice demands the teachers grade the students on their own performance, and not merely on how closely the student agrees with teachers own personal opinion. I do remember one time when I presented a paper to a professor that completely went against their own personal beliefs. My fellow students warned me against it, saying that she would, no doubt, fail me for such a contrary perspective, regardless of whether or not I agreed with it, too. But in the end, she proved herself to be a truly worthy teacher, for she graded me on my argument, and the formulation of it. (I only got a B, but that was really all I deserved.)

"Whoso cleaveth to justice," Baha'u'llah says, "can, under no circumstances, transgress the limits of moderation. He discerneth the truth in all things, through the guidance of Him Who is the All-Seeing. The civilization, so often vaunted by the learned exponents of arts and sciences, will, if allowed to overleap the bounds of moderation, bring great evil upon men. Thus warneth you He Who is the All-Knowing. If carried to excess, civilization will prove as prolific a source of evil as it had been of goodness when kept within the restraints of moderation. Meditate on this, O people, and be not of them that wander distraught in the wilderness of error. The day is approaching when its flame will devour the cities, when the Tongue of Grandeur will proclaim: 'The Kingdom is God's, the Almighty, the All-Praised!'"

And so here, in this quote, we see that dire warning that seems to be surrounding us right now. Due to a lack of moderation, which is existent in so many areas, the fire of excess seems to be getting ready to devour us. And as much as I would love to look at this last quote more, I think I will publish this article now, and examine this last quote a bit more later, when I can really look at it in more depth. (I have to go conduct a meditation workshop right now.)

But I did want to end with this last, little snippet from the Writings: In all matters moderation is desirable.

Really. What more can I say?


  1. Replies
    1. Moderation is the avoidance of excess or extremes. In practice, moderation means having or doing something just enough; not too much, nor too little. It is what keeps us from being subject to the whims of our desires. Thanks for asking.

  2. Dear Mead,
    Thank you so much for the clear and eloquent article.
    I think is a very valuable reflection on these days when there is so many forces inclining society to excess. I find this concept particularly powerful against excessive work or even service.
    I also believe that health is a good indicator of moderation. Things that lead to disease are a clear example of excess.