The Modern-Day Challenge of Temperance
The most difficult trait nowadays one could have is related to temperance. It is the state of moderation and self-restraint. It is challenging in reality because everyone seems to like massive wealth, act instantaneously, gain authority and attention and accept that stress is part of daily matters. Moderation seems an obsolete concept in the times of uncontrolled consumption and capitalism, and focus of personal achievements and egoism. Literally everyone has a difficulty on one aspect of temperance, which will be the focus of this blogpost.
No retaliation and forgiveness
Forgiveness is the hardest thing to find in the modern times. It is quite natural that this phenomenon is rare. It is because humans are time-bounded individuals. We remember from our mistakes and those of others. We attempt to learn from them, and avoid doing the same thing again. In a way, it is like saying than when someone is at fault at one, he or she could move forward without completely forgetting or forgiving the person who has done wrong to him or her. The greater challenge is that it is easier to retaliate and make the person feel bad as revenge than forgive him or her. To inflict pain is easier than to tolerate it. Sadistic it may sound, but it is understandable we human beings are capable of doing this. What temperance wants us to do is perhaps control ourselves for us not to inflict pain to others, no matter what we do. Instead of instantaneously fighting back, we are challenged to step back to assess the situation and ask ourselves whether causing pain would eventually make us better or not. Perhaps being willfully forgetful to what has happened is a better option than nurture the pain we got from others. In that we are perhaps blindly happy, but genuinely a happy one.
Humility and non-arrogance
Everyone should regard oneself as important. That is crucial to build one's self-confidence and at least self-respect. However, people nowadays are taught to overcome tough competition to be confident as much as possible in all endeavours. If one does not, others would simply devour one's chances and opportunities. This however reflects a challenge to be meek at all times. There are highly successful people who are confident with themselves but are grounded to the reality that their success was brought not just by them alone but as a collective effort. These humble individuals have learned that they need to be part of a functional team to attain personal goals without pulling others down. They see themselves with significant importance, but not as significantly better than the people surrounding. Therefore, i-am-the-best contemporary philosophy poses a challenge to have the virtue of temperance.
Simplicity and prudence
Temperance is also manifested in our actions. Acting appropriately in a situation exhibits temperance. Today, many fall in the pit of overkill and mediocrisy. When we do something, we either exaggerate or under-perform. Exaggeration seems acceptable in the modern times, because many believe that more effort is exerted the better the result. Better to do more than expected, rather than see others outperform one. This is based on the belief on tough and brutal competition, such that to have a personal advantage, one should offer more. However, doing more may not mean doing it correctly. A prudent person knows when to act or not, when to stop or continue. Prudence is not just an ethical tool, but a protection against self-destruction and exhaustion. On the other hand, mediocrisy should never be tolerated. Doing less ruins effectivity and restricts optimal outcomes for both personal and the society in general. Thus, it is perhaps more commendable to produce results quite comparable to what is expected than either way-above or below it.
Calmness and self-control
Our emotions and thoughts are very volatile such that controlling them is almost impossible. We simply burst into laughter and anger, drown ourselves into melancholy and anxiety. We see ourselves dependent to how we think and feel. It is however correct to say, we are the person who we think and feel, but our thoughts and feelings should not control the person we are supposed to be. Concretely saying, a happy person has genuine happy thoughts and feelings, but this happiness does not control the individual itself. One could moderately restrain oneself in the expression of being happy then. One can not just do whatever one wants because he or she is happy. The best rule of thumb would be if something makes one calm inside, then that reflects happiness and self-restraint at the same time. A happy person lacking self-control is a person who is reckless, immature and emotionally unstable, happy at a moment, but not in general.
This blogpost is quite difficult to compose personally, given that I write so much about happiness and living one day at a time. Somehow, temperance hinders in one way another an individual in attaining optimal happiness. Hedonists could argue that restraining oneself is a holding a bird with two hands, restricting it to fly. However, I would want to point out that having temperance may not necessarily mean being unhappy. Happiness does not require anything, or associate with something. One could opt to control oneself as part of the expression of happiness. Not retaliating, starting conflicts although provoked is a decision related to happiness with a potential of happiness. Nevertheless, all of us have the right to be happy, and to what means and extent we express and achieve this feeling is highly subjective and personal.
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