Ben Franklin's Virtues: Moderation


Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

Sometimes we use "moderation" as a synonym for "temperance," and vice versa.

Ben Franklin uses temperance to describe eating and drinking behaviors, but he uses moderation to account for emotional life.

Moderation is another virtue that gives me much material for personal growth!

On the whole, I do try to avoid extremes of emotion as much as possible. As I get older, I become better at this, but I'm still by no means perfect.

We're all born with different temperaments that gift us in different ways. Like my little daughter, I'm a passionate person by nature. That passion has helped me in some cases when I needed strength to survive or to help others. My temperament is no excuse, however, for letting passion fly all over the place in inappropriate circumstances. And I have also done that.

I like Ben's point that one key to emotional moderation is to "forebear resenting injuries as much as you think they deserve."

Rsentment is a spiritual killer. I would like to tell you a story about how resentment almost destroyed me, during my decade of agnosticism, but this is not the place for that story.

It's not easy to get rid of resentment. It sinks its hooks into us, unbalances us, and ruins any chance for emotional moderation.

But I believe in the power of prayer. I believe in praying for our enemies. It works. No, God does not often "magically" lift away resentment, and thinking that He will can be emotionally dangerous. But He does engineer circumstances that will help us deal with those emotions, and even lead us eventually to love our enemies. Sometimes, we can love them well enough that we forget they were once enemies.

When I have been persistent and patient in my prayer for healing from resentment, my prayer has been answered, and I have been able to go places emotionally where I never could have gone under my own power.

How about you? Is emotional moderation a challenge for you?