This seems to be an age of extreme reactions. Perhaps the present economic conditions of recession have something to do with it. Perhaps people have lost the capacity to react with restraint. Mob violence erupts over even minor incidents- it seems that people are just waiting for a chance to react aggressively. Reasonableness or balance are not considered virtues nowadays.
I remember reading James Hilton’s”Lost Horizon” many years ago. He writes of a Tibetan Monastery located in a fictitious valley called Shangri La. Four travellers involuntarily arrive there.
Moderation is the prevalent philosophy of the lamas who reside there.
One of them tells the protagonist, Hugh Conway, “If I were to put it into a very few words, my dear sir, I should say that our prevalent belief is in moderation. We inculcate the virtue of avoiding excess of all kinds—even including, if you will pardon the paradox, excess of virtue itself.”
“In the valley which you have seen, and in which there are several thousand inhabitants living under the control of our order, we have found that the principle makes for a considerable degree of happiness.”
“We rule with moderate strictness, and in return we are satisfied with moderate obedience.
And another time -“The jewel has facets,” says the lama, Chang, “and it is possible that many religions are moderately true.”
When Barnard, accompanying Conway, says-“I must remember that remark of yours. ‘Many religions are moderately true.’ You fellows up on the mountain must be a lot of wise guys to have thought that out. You’re right, too, I’m dead certain of it.”
“But we,” responds Chang, “are only moderately certain.”
This doesn’t seem like a bad way of looking at things- and one which we could do worse than to adopt.
Thomas Paine , one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, famously said- “Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice.”
In India most people- particularly in political or social life- do it the other way around, it seems.
We prefer moderation in principle, but not in temper.