Moderation in all Things, but…

Development Policy17 Jun 2010Richard Register

I used to joke about my unusual life, being a sculptor, environmental activist, development politician. I lived in a mountain village in New Mexico at 9,000 feet (back to the land!), in a studio storefront in Venice, California (loved the art scene), at Paolo Soleri’s experimental town, Arcosanti, Arizona (to reshape cities around the world). Enjoyed enough drugs, sex and rock n roll that Bob Dylan could never accuse me of letting someone else get my kicks for me. (Met him, Joan Baez and Jim Morrison along the way.) I’m traveling all over the world these days to give speeches on eco-cities so we don’t wreck the planet, trying thereby to get beyond jet fuel hypocrisy to better than balanced karma.

To the idea of being a little excessive or immoderate in my desire for experience, I used to say “Moderation in all things… but… all things!” (Which maybe is its own form of immoderate behavior, which is what was moderately funny.)

But recently I’ve been thinking moderation in all things is a pretty good idea. For example capitalism, where not rapacious, and socialism where much is shared but enough retained for personal creativity and reasonable happy options is retained privately, aren’t so bad. The other animals and the plants would look at people and say, “What’s the difference between Communism and Capitalism anyway? They both tear our mountains down for the minerals, strip our hills of trees, kill and eat us or replace us with easier and fatter things to kill and eat. They both overexploit as fast as they can.”

Then there’s the fact that standard old ideas, moderate ideas like graduated income tax, as compared with throwing out the baby with the bathwater, chucking the whole thing and trying to start over… In other words reform rather than revolution is pretty good. And a little conventional honest democracy is damn good. We have a lot to work with.

The idea that things have to be polarized and hostile is very bad for us: Communism vs. Capitalism and vice versa unto death of one or the other (when both have positive points), for example. And the old notion that we should not live so excessively on borrowing and save a little more sounds sound. In fact you can exploit nature moderately as all animals and plants exploit their environment and each other, but they respect limits we’ve immoderately violated. So… moderation is a pretty good idea in its own right. It’s a way to get to a minimum conflict world with room for us all!