The call to moderation is one I have constantly rolled my eyes at. I've always considered it the call of the weak; they call for moderation cause they can't go all the way. I mean, who cares about your midway lift? I'm trying to know your max. You ever hear a song that says 1/2 the way turns up? It's ALL THE WAY turned up. It's inborn, built into us. Just look at these phrases in our language,
1) All the way
2) Full send
3) Till the wheels fall off
4) All or nothing
5) The best & Greatest
6) Do it 110%
Going too far is a natural human inclination. As natural as our propensity to trade or build communities. But just because a tendency is natural don't make it good. The problem with our propensity to extremes is tricky, though. It's not easy to pick up on, and when we're presented with extremism, our responses tend to exacerbate the situation. The pendulum swing manifests in everything. When things go far one way, rest assured they will go far the other way.
Can you see how one extreme creates the other?
The problem is when we're confronted with an extreme situation, our kneejerk reaction is to respond with an equal and opposite extreme response. Let's take the law of conservation of energy as a metaphor. Energy is never created or destroyed. It can only be transformed or transferred. Ever seen a couple that's madly in love and then madly in hate? The energy behind the love transfers to hate and then back and forth. The problem is when the people in the system are oblivious to the carnival ride of a life they're in.
Crazy highs are nice, but at a certain point, they should be regarded with suspicion. Extreme highs & lows play on our brain chemistry, and guess what? They're addictive. That's why that crazy couple can't seem to break the bond they're in. They need each other. They need to keep the pendulum swinging.
What scares me today is it seems our culture is addicted to extremes. The polarization in politics, culture, and the economy is an indicator of the horrors to come. All of the conflicts in our society feature two sides, each believing they're on the side of the angels. Each side increases the swing, thinking they're fixing the situation, not realizing they're ensuring the situation only gets worse.
Men vs. Women. Black vs. White. Rich vs. Poor. On and on, the whole thing shakes. How much can our system withstand? Look at history, and note how when the pendulum swings far in one direction, it's followed by a period of an opposite swing. Every republican president undoes what the previous democrat president does before him. Iran's Islamist revolution created a country where only 40% of Iranians identify as Muslim. Soviet Russia attempted to re-distribute wealth, so there was no inequality; today, Russia ranks amongst the worst countries regarding its wealth gap.
We shouldn't be destined to forever swing between extremes. This is a ride we should all want to get off; no reasonable person reading this wants to be extreme, so what's going on? I'll share my theories in part 2 next week. For now, I'll leave you with this quote by Mark Twain:
“If you catch 100 red fire ants as well as 100 large black ants, and put them in a jar, at first, nothing will happen. However, if you violently shake the jar and dump them back on the ground the ants will fight until they eventually kill each other. The thing is, the red ants think the black ants are the enemy and vice versa, when in reality, the real enemy is the person who shook the jar. This is exactly what’s happening in society today"