‘Moderation’, says the dictionary, is the ‘avoidance of excess or extremes, especially in one’s behaviour or political opinions.’ Moderate behaviour is reasonable behaviour. Synonyms for ‘moderate’ include : Self-restrained, tolerant, balanced, considerate, dispassionate, measured, judicious .
Why this sudden exploration of a vocabulary word? No, not quite a random exercise. Actually, as part of end-of-year exercise, I was checking what 2019 had been ‘Year Of’. Two I knew about: Year of the Periodic Table, and Year of Indigenous Languages (both covered in the blog). But the third I knew nothing about—that 2019 was supposed to have been the International Year of Moderation. The UN Resolution to mark the Year was moved “to promote moderation as a tool to prevent the rise of extremism and terrorism” and “to promote the values of dialogue, tolerance, understanding and cooperation.” The Year of Moderation was declared in “an effort to amplify the voices of moderation through the promotion of dialogue, tolerance, understanding and cooperation.” The resolution did not pass without huge amount of discussion, debate and dissension. Even at the end, it was not passed unanimously. There were two votes against.
But was it even worth the battle to get the Resolution passed? To begin with, it was the most un-publicized Year ever! And more pertinently, 2019 was anything other than a (let alone ‘The’) Year of Moderation. It was in fact a year of extremes, of polarization, of violence—of thought, word and action. Across the world, governments became more autocratic, and across the world citizens reacted. The world only became more unsafe, less equal and more intolerant.
This was also the 150th Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Another event which has gone by more or less un-observed even in India. The fact that both the anniversaries were ignored is all of a piece. Mahatma Gandhi accepted that people had different points of view and he believed in convincing people through dialogue and discussion. More than anything else, he believed in the fundamental goodness of people, which is the basis of moderation.
Sadly missed opportunities in 2019. Let us see what we make of 2020…
3 thoughts on “Year of Moderation—It Was Not!”
Most appropriate post for these times!
A little story that is doing the rounds:
“A donkey was tied to a tree. A demon came and released him.
The donkey entered the field of a farmer and began to eat everything. The farmer’s wife saw the donkey, was afraid that he would destroy the farm, took the rifle and killed him.
The donkey’s owner saw the dead donkey, got angry and also took his rifle and fired at the woman, killing her. When the farmer got home and saw that his wife was dead, he killed the donkey’s owner. The donkey owner’s sons seeing their dead father, burned the farmer’s field. The farmer in retaliation killed them.
When God asked the demon what he had done, he said: “I did nothing, I just released the donkey!”
Be careful, because many times, the only thing the devil does is release the donkey…”
Indeed we live in strange and unsettling times. The story is very close to our lives at the moment!
Well articulated. Looks like we are in a period of churning – Economic, Social, Political as well as Intellectual. It is an era of Unreasonable Leaders with dictatorial style of functioning. The hope is that of people speaking up and bringing in a semblance of moderation. Perhaps this year could turn out to be the one when the forces of reasonableness started asserting themselves!