With extremism being particularly rampant among some religious followers who become increasingly zealous about their convictions and practices, and with the cartoonish tensions created by black and white contrasts set out by desensitized uber-capitalism vs. new age parsimoniousness, I was struck by the depth and timeliness of these contrasting messages:
With regard to all human traits, the middle of the road is the right path. For example: Do not be hot-tempered, easily angered. Nor, on the other hand, should you be unfeeling like a corpse. Rather, take the middle of the road: keep an even disposition, reserving your anger for occasions when it is truly warranted. Similarly, do not cultivate a desire for luxuries; keep your eye fixed only on genuine necessities. In giving to others, do not hold back what you can afford, but do not give so lavishly that you yourself will be impoverished. Avoid both hysterical gaiety and somber dejection, and instead be calmly joyful always, showing a cheerful countenance. Act similarly with regard to all the dispositions. This is the path followed by the wise.
- Maimonides, 12th Century
…this path, the one that avoids extremes, is called the ‘path of God,’ and Abraham taught his descendants to follow it. Whoever follows it gains goodness and blessing, as it is said, "For I have known him, that he might command his children and those who follow him to keep the Lord’s path, doing justice and right, that the Lord may fulfill for Abraham the divine purpose (Genesis 18.19)."