My late mother used to say, “All things in moderation”. She didn’t ban me from eating sweets, just said eat a few sweets once in a while. She didn’t ban me from playing video games, just said play for a few hours. You get the picture. Moderation makes things palletable, solves problems, and settles arguments.
It is a grown-up mindset which is sadly vanishing from the modern world. Everyone wants everything 100% their way. Everything has to be over-done, extreme, shouted, stamped out, banned outright, cracked down on. Moderation isn’t an option. Applying some restraint, some caution, some compromise, can provide a smooth way out of a lot of situations. But compromise, too, seems no longer seems to be in vocabulary of modern society.
Politics used to be less extreme, more debate-driven, more able to accomodate compromise. Now, everyone wants to be able to say, “I did it my way”.
Leave means leave
A soft(er) Brexit would’ve been far more bearable for the vast majority of people; a little moderation and compromise would have really taken the sting out, enabled a continuation of free trade and not erected so many barriers. For example if we’d stayed in the single market and customs union, the threat to export-led business would have been largely neutralised. But no, an extreme ideology triumphed over logic and, as a result, moderation was tossed aside; we’re out, and out hard, because it had to be 100% extreme and full-on and without compromise. “Leave Means Leave”, remember? That slogan was actively trying to eliminate the very idea of applying moderation. And we see the undeniable damage as a result. History will show this whole thing as one of the clearest examples of why calm moderation and compromise should be applied to major decisions, regardless of the loud screams for extreme action.
Strict Covid passports
In the UK, Covid Passports are being proposed as a means to access social venues. No moderation, no compromise, no restraint: Just ban people from entering unless they hold a certification. But what if a person can’t be vaccinated for practical or medical reasons? Or they haven’t been summoned to get injected yet? What if they’ve had the virus and got immunity? Can’t we just use a bit of human brain power here, and give people a little more credit? Allow social venues to put up signs poltely requesting that only vaccinated people may enter. This will perhaps not be 100% effective but it will remove a lot of bad feeling and contraversy and settle the argument without having to be extreme about it. The idea of identifying yourself with a Covid Passport has sinister undertones but these would be tolerable if the proposition was strictly time-limited, for example six months only. But it’s permanent. No moderation means no logic and no caution. Unrest will follow.
Extreme flag waving
The UK government’s current obsession with waving flags has unsettling political tones but again, there is no moderation here. It’s gone to the next level. Waving a flag once in a while is alright, because it’s a reminder of values, it’s a reminder of who we are. But to wave that same flag every single day, at every possible opportunity, constantly, one becomes desensitised and the repetition renders the symbolism almost meaningless. Where is the moderation?
Police, Crime and Sentancing Bill
This is the proposed UK law that makes you liable for a 10 year prison sentence if you make a loud noise outside parliament, or protest against something vocally in public even as a sole individual. Crack down. Ban it. Stop it. Stamp it out. Silence it. Apart from the obscenity of such a law, it’s counter productive, as trying to silence a speaker only prolongs the argument. There was no need for any of this; laws already exist to punish vandalism and breaches of the peace. Protest isn’t a crime. Where is the moderation?
The nutcracker and the sledge hammer
Moderation, compromise, balance – these are things which are very much liberal traits. Most liberal people don’t insist they have everything their way. We are open to compromise, always. Total bans and stoppages are definitely more right-wing characteristics. Perhaps then we should never have expected a softer, more sensible, business-friendly Brexit from this right wing goverment, or a more carefully balanced management of the pandemic, or anything less than an absurd push for nationalism in times of crisis. After all, why use a nutcracker when you have an 80-seat majority sledge hammer?
The people of the UK have chosen the sledge hammer. Now we feel it coming down on their heads. There is no more compromise, no more balance, no more moderation. Everything is extreme, everything is 100% one way, everything is force fed. There is no room for debate. In fact debate itself, is being stopped.
All good things
Above are just a few examples, all of them UK-centric, but there are plenty more from across the world. Human beings are by nature, solution-seeking, progressive creatures. We don’t like being extreme. We have just lost our way, and forgotten how to work things out sensibly. I believe this is about guidance, we have no proper guidance to keep us on track. Politics isn’t a core school subject in UK schools like Maths or English and many world leaders are driven not by those human solution-seeking instincts but instead by greed, populism and power. Our supposed guiding lights, our leaders, aren’t currently setting the examples we need.
But there is cause for optimism. Things are changing. In the US, Trump is gone and Biden is redressing the balance, focussing on solutions without being harsh or extreme.
Another thing my mother used to say is, “All good things come to he who waits”. Sooner or later, for uncompromising, harsh people, the regret comes, and the glaring need for compromise becomes undeniable in hindsight. Only then might people put away their sledge hammers.