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Moderation

From The Road to Character by David Brooks.  (Amazon Link)

This excerpt starts around page 69:

Moderation is a generally misunderstood virtue.  It is important to start by saying what it is not.  Moderation is not just finding the mid-point between two opposing poles and opportunistically planting yourself there.  Neither is moderation bland equanimity.  It’s not just having a temperate disposition that doesn’t contain rival passions or completing ideas.

On the contrary, moderation is based on an awareness of the inevitability of conflict.  If you think that the world can fit neatly together, then you don’t need to be moderate.  If you think all your personal qualities can be brought together into simple harmony, you don’t need to hold back, you can just go whole hog for self-actualization and growth.  If you think all moral values point in the same direction, or all political goals can be realized all at once by a straightforward march along one course, you don’t need to be moderate, either.  You can just head in the direction of truth as quickly as possible.

Moderation is based on the idea that things do not fit neatly together.

There are never-ending tensions that pit equality against achievement, centralization against decentralization, order and community against liberty and individualism.  The moderate doesn’t try to solve these arguments.  There are no ultimate solutions.  The moderate can only hope to achieve a balance that is consistent with the needs of the moment.