This I Believe

Thomas - Fayetteville, Pennsylvania
Entered on November 28, 2007
Age Group: 65+

It seems as though I’ve spent most of my seventy-plus years trying to get “better”. In pursuit of personal improvement I have eaten nothing but bananas for long stretches, placed myself in awkward positions and intoned Ohm for hours on end, practiced unqualified acceptance of perpetual religious obligation and other equally demanding rituals. But the results always have been singularly disappointing.

So I have come to the belief that moderation, as opposed to zealous pursuit, is the best prescription, not only for self improvement, but for a happy and satisfying life.

I know there are those who will pooh-pooh this claiming nothing great can be accomplished without zeal and passion. But I am convinced that even handed courses will foreshadow far better ends than zealous pursuit of narrow goals. Maybe it’s a function of age and I no longer burn with the need to do great things. But whatever it is – it works for me.

If I undertake a Spartan diet I will find it impossible to sustain. And even if I lose weight in the beginning, when I finally throw up my hands and rebel I rebound with such force that I end up gaining all of the weight back and then some to grow on as the old saying goes.

But if I eat whatever I want, but in moderation, I not only lose weight but I keep it off.

Finning inner peace and self respect does not come; I am now convinced, from slavish obedience to any contrived rubric or practice that takes you out of the world in which you live. This seems only to give rise to the question, does the ritual improve your life or does it become your life?

If I pratice moderation in my daily live, I’m able to find inner peace and feel good about myself.

And religion is no different and should be practiced in moderation. Religion has been responsible for much good over the years. And that good has many and diverse roots. But religion has also been responsible for egregious atrocities. And these atrocities all seem to have a single root -the idea that a particular group’s beliefs and customs are the beliefs and customs of God. Therefore if one happens to disagree with them then that person disagrees with God. And if one disagrees with God then that person is a heretic, an infidel or any pejorative label you might coose. And it is only a short step from believing a person to be a heretic to believing that you are doing God a favor if you kill him. Without moderation, religion is not only not helpful, it can be dangerous.

So, while I have been late to the table, I now believe that moderation in all that we do is a path to becoming a well adjusted individual. Mabe not the only path – but a good one.