Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Moderation--Thou Shalt Have a Filter



I remember many years ago flipping through the channels, back in the day when one used to do that, and pausing for a minute on Oprah. It was a close-up of her holding some book and proclaiming something like, “I'm telling you. This is it. This is the answer.” Now, I actually have a lot of respect for Oprah, but on this occasion I continued right on channel surfing. Even all the those years ago, I was sick of it, and I am sicker of it today... I am sick of the apparent lack of filter that too often seems to accompany people on their journey to enlightenment. That is, when exploring a new idea, world philosophy, hobby, trend, or latest bandwagon, too often it seems people come out all guns blazing and lose all sense of moderation and the ability to filter information. Is it too much to remember that there are pros and cons to everything? That what works for you or this situation might not apply me or this other situation? There is no one book, no one trend, no one bandwagon, no one anything that has all the answers. And what is the answer for Oprah is not the answer for me. Historically, I am not a ranter, but on this rare occasion, I'm going to let her rip...

Tell me you don't know someone like this...PersonA is in a slump. And they declare this, “I am in a slump.” And then PersonA decides and announces, “I am going to start running and lose 50 pounds.” And kudos to PersonA, they actually do this. And you know they do it because you hear about every micro-step in the process. First, you hear about the hours of research they put into running shoes and how they ended up paying $300 and special ordering ones from Sweden that are made of lightweight sea kelp with customized long distance orthotics. Next you are graced with a kilometre by kilometre play-by-play on facebook complete with photo montage of PersonA in decreasing-sized lulu lemons. Your conversations with PersonA of late inevitably include at least one, “You should really try running. I've never felt better,” comment as well as a 5 minute snippet where you are required to ooo and aaah over their latest running gadget, app, fit bit, nipple tape, etc. before they launch into the details of their achilles injury and the physio exercises that will get them 'up and running in no time!' And this all continues until PersonA has lost the 50 pounds plus 6 more and culminates in a snapshot of a tearful PersonA finishing the London Marathon in an impressive 3 hours and 11 minutes....
You don't hear from PersonA for a few months, and when you finally reconnect, PersonA, now 30 pounds heavier (their doctor told them they had to stop running), is now touting (well, flogging) the benefits of a positive body image and preparing to star in an upcoming Dove commercial.

It's exhausting.

Now don't go accusing me of dissing physical exercise or being anti-positive body image. That is not my point. Nor am I discouraging goals or growth or implying that I dislike hearing about these things as they apply to my friends. Nope. Those things are ALL great. EVERYTHING is GREAT, actually. In blinking moderation. This is not news. I'm just endorsing the having of a filter, and if PersonA were to ever ask for my feedback (they won't), this is the advice I would give them...

The 6 Commandments of Having a Filter

1. Thou shalt not throw all things 'past' under the bus – We all know someone, maybe it's PersonA, who's gotten into 'natural health remedies,' and suddenly modern medicine is a TOTAL FARCE and pharmaceutical companies are conspiring to create drug-addicted zombie people, especially children, in order to finance their 'real agenda' of buying up sections of the Brazilian rainforest to build chemical super-labs and mansions for their personal use. That may or may not be a direct quote, but beware of this mentality just the same. Some methods and ideas are just good and effective--not to say they can't be adapted or improved--but there's no sense reinventing the wheel and/or rejecting sound practice at every juncture. Exhausting. And on this point, because one has found success using a new method, that does not mean that there is no room in world philosophy for 'past' and 'new' methods to co-exist peacefully. 

2. Thou shalt not string others along thy journey to enlightenment assuming that thy new found wisdom applies to everybody else – Recently, I was enlightened, and I'd like to share this with you...Cloth diapers are a lot of f&*king work, and sometimes they make your house smell like sh!t. 3 babies and 6 years into parenting, I have seen the light. Disposable diapers are AMAZING! And if you, like me, are stupid enough to have ever invested in any diapering implement that cannot be used to pad the landfill for the next 5000 years, you should ceremoniously burn those suckers and perform the ancient dance of convenience around their foul-smelling ashes. WOO!

Now, no doubt, someone else's journey to enlightenment has led them to find that cloth diapers have been the cure to some curious and painful skin condition that has plagued their baby since birth, but we'll just sweep that bit of information under the carpet.

3. Thou shalt not be taken in by the AllThingsGood vs. AllThingsBad configuration -- Because you see this politics all the time...Consider the following chart:

New Democratic Party vs. Conservative Party

New Democratic Party
* Pro-environment
* Pro-woman
* Pro-social programs
* Pro-endangered nesting waterfowl
* Supports the arts

Conservative Party
* Anti-poor people
* Anti-small business
* Anti-environment
* Redneck, gay-bashing, women-haters
* Leader personally seen defacing art at children's exhibit

I dare you to take this as any reflection of my political affiliations because I can generate the opposite chart in about 5 seconds. Maybe this all seems small bones to you, but I see this ALL THE TIME. And I'm telling you, this is dangerous territory. Consider the same configuration for a chart with title Jews vs. Non-Jews. This unnecessary and ridiculous polarization is the stuff wars are made of. If you identify someone trying to sell you an idea this way...Run. And tell all your friends to run too.

4. Thou shalt not have philosophies that strictly adhere to any one school of political, religious, or otherwise thought – To me, there is no greater demonstration of lack of filter than perfect coherence to one doctrine. I have news for you. It is possible to be Catholic and Pro-gay. I know that first-hand. It is also possible to be pro-military and pro-social program. You are actually allowed to do yoga and hate meditation. You can do and think whatever you like. Oh, you're a hunting vegetarian, you say? You just made my day.

5. Thou shalt not heed the message of PersonA for the sole reason that his voice is the loudest—Come on, you've seen 'em...the finger-pointers, the impassioned celebrities, the vocal critics, the morally superior, the toastmasters, the dynamic leaders, and we've all been taken in by their messages at one time or another. And, to clarify, I am not suggesting that these people don't have something worth hearing, I am just gently reminding you to approach their messages with your filter in place. Neither the strength of one's convictions nor the enthusiasm by which they are presented are a reflection of goodness or truth (ahem Hitler). And there is also the small business of potentially missing out the amazing message of those of lesser decibalage. Just something to keep in mind next time you're being led down the garden path by the likes of Jenny McCarthy.

6. Thou shalt have filter in place when embarking upon new bandwagon, and therewith tread respectfully and with courtesy for other passengers—Say you're going along in life and you decide you're going to make some effort to better the environment. By all means, jump on that “Go Green” bandwagon. Do your recycling, campaigning, upcycling, whatever you need to do. And please tell me all about your new lasagna composting method. I'd love to hear about it. Just spare me the part where you get up on that bandwagon and be all like waving your banners, and preaching like you own the place, and wearing your seventeenth 'Green in the new black' T-shirt and sporting your latest reusable bag while running for the Green Party. Or whatever, pick three of those things, but don't do all the other ones because a. It's obnoxious. b. The next time you want to jump on a bandwagon, don't be surprised if everyone else tries to avert their eyes and pass you by because... c. It's obnoxious, and d. Somewhere along the line if you persist in this type of approach, you start to lose credibility. A good rule of thumb is to avoid the situation whereby your arrival on the bandwagon launches other passengers off the other end. If you notice this happening, you might want to scale it back just a bit.

At this point, I just wanted to draw your attention back to Old Aristotle's words of wisdom... I think if he were alive today, he would say that “Indeed it is mark a rational mind to able to achieve personal enlightenment without losing one's filter.” Please...try hot yoga, drink rooibos, grow a succulent garden, try your hand a buddhism, re-examine your personal body image philosophy, TRY SOMETHING NEW and ditch it if it doesn't suit. Great! And tell me all about it. There's nothing I'd love to do more than converse with you about these types of things. There are lots of great things worthy of your time to discover out there, lots of things that will foster growth. Believe it or not, I say that all without any hint of sarcasm. Just keep that filter squarely in place.  And as a wise friend told me about this particular blog entry, perhaps it is not the best strategy to 'fight extremism with extremism', and she is probably right. But if there is one cause on which I stand on the extreme end of a spectrum, it's moderation.


extremism                                                                         me        moderation