Year of Moderation—It Was Not!

‘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.” TE202BBC6-BEEB-4844-A799-B9896B8AD33Fhe 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…

— Meena

 

 

All Alike

We live in a world, and in a time, of confrontation and conflict, a continuous battle for proving our might; so much energy poured into dividing rather than synergising.

At a time when “what makes us different” is more important than what binds us as human beings I remember a poem by one of my favourite poets that reminds us that we are really not different!

No Difference

Small as a peanut,

Big as a giant,

We’re all the same size

When we turn off the light.

 

Rich as a sultan,

Poor as a mite,

We’re all worth the same

When we turn off the light.

 

Red, black or orange,

Yellow or white,

We all look the same

When we turn off the light.

 

So maybe the way to

To make everything right

Is for God to just reach out

And turn off the light!

Shel Silverstein

 

If only something could make everything right!

Let’s take a minute to pause and ponder as the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September.

–Mamata