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April 21, 2016

Why "Everything in Moderation" Is Ridiculous

If you spend any amount of time on social media, particularly Facebook, you've probably (hopefully) noticed articles sharing how studies have found that refined sugar causes cancer, that gluten is harmful, and that lots of other "foods" we Americans know well are actually causing all sorts of sickness and disease... and in my opinion, all for good reason. Where there's smoke there's fire. I follow lots of pages and people that share such information and, with good reason, I've found I believe much of it.

You realize everyone used to think smoking was harmless, right? Now we laugh at such ignorance. How do we know in a few years (or for some of us, now) we won't find that there are things we're consuming on a daily basis that are causing cancer and all sorts of diseases?

In short, if something was found to cause cancer, why on earth would you put it in your body? And yet ... our society continues to. Why? Because it's familiar. It's comfortable. And in our puzzling human minds somehow familiar = safe. Which is terrifyingly inaccurate. See smoking example above.

So back to all these articles being proliferated throughout social media ... I can't help taking a few seconds to glance over their comments. There will always be the people that agree, then the people that lament how "everything" causes cancer so we might as well just ignore all findings and eat whatever we want (yeah, have fun with that...), and then there are always, always the people who impart their golden rule of "Everything in moderation," with sentiments like "You only live once, so you might as well enjoy it," following close after.

Such a view as "everything in moderation" bothers me greatly. And I'm beginning to figure out why. I've boiled it down to three reasons.

The more I learn about mainstream medicine versus alternative medicine, the more I see how looked down on and stereotyped alternative medicine is. And yet I also see just as clearly how hope-filled and, for lack of a better word, miraculous the latter is. Like it is little short of buried gold--buried in the big-bucks world of pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies making customers out of patients. And yet I also see one more thing: how Americans as a whole seem to be pretty oblivious. And they also seem to prefer it that way. Why? Because in regards to life as they know it, even if they're "just" having to nap every day or dealing with weekly migraines or hardly able to walk from arthritis or tied to the bathroom with malfunctioning insides, they think that in theory they want to get better. Who wouldn't? But in reality, they only want to do so in the ways that are familiar to them, that in the past few decades have become so doggone second nature even though we've all learned the hard way that they're not actually helping. They would rather take a pill that claims eased symptoms but never a healed cause. Or two. Or twelve. Because that's just how it is, don't you know? And they would rather run to get a burger or two and a large fry and their diet pop after they pick up their prescriptions because that's just how it is, don't you know?

I grew up in that world, I've eaten fast food a billion times in the past, I've been on antidepressants and muscle relaxers and special pain medicine in the past, like most of the country evidently. But I've learned and I know better now. I know the above is "how it is" just as much as anyone. But I also now know that's not how it should be. And I can do something about it ... so ... I do.

So heaven forbid we pull our heads out of the familiar sand, do some research, and actually come to terms with these earth-shattering findings on gluten and sugar and all their friends being bad for us. Because that's just how things are.

"Everything in moderation." Think about the sweeping acceptance of that phrase: how does it feel? All warm, fuzzy, and content, with a nothing-is-off-limits, all-forgiving lenience. It's a feel-good cop out for people who deep, deep down feel guilty when they're enlightened by newly (or maybe even not newly) found truth but don't have the gumption to do anything about it. It makes them feel better, and not just better but justified even. It's a lot easier to accept everything, in moderation, than draw the line anywhere.

But I have to ask: If this rule is good enough for your eating habits, why not apply it to your whole life? If everything really is fine in moderation, cancer-causing qualities aside, then why not have a little poison in your food now and then--not straight up, or every day, but just a little sprinkled on your food every week or so? What's the harm if it's in moderation? Surely all the non-poisoned food you're eating will just balance it out.

And why draw the line at what we eat? Why not steal a purse or some lipstick in moderation ... you know, once a month or so? Or why not shoot yourself, in moderation? Crazy, right? Pardon the extreme comparisons, but you see my point: If something is known to be wrong or, further, harmful, doing it in moderation really isn't much different than doing it faithfully. You eat poison, you'll at best be deathly ill. You shoplift once, good chance you'll find your rear-end in jail. One bullet can kill as well as a few. You get my point. So why would you eat something "now and then," you know, just once a week or so, that is proven to be harmful?

And I cannot help but draw this correlation: If everything is fine in moderation, why not sin in moderation? Surely just doing what you know is wrong once in a while, you know, on a special occasion or after a long day isn't harmful. And yet ... sin is sin. It doesn't matter if you only did it once or every now and then--that doesn't make it good, or at best harmless.

Since, after all, we only live once, and if that rule is good for determining what we eat, why not let that determine everything we do in life? Just lie in moderation. Just look at porn in moderation. Just cheat in moderation. Apply the moderation rule to the rest of your life, and watch your world crumble. Along with your compromised body.

All of this to say, if "everything in moderation" is your warm-and-fuzzy rule, please think about its implications. Are you going with that thought just because it keeps your familiar world familiar, if deadly, and because it's easy and lets you, in your mind, off the hook to ignore the warnings out in the open for you to heed? Would you actually apply that rule to your whole life? And Christians, would you let everything else slide in life just because it's comfortable and common?

How about new rule: Great things often, good things occasionally, and bad things never. I promise you won't starve, and your body will thank you.

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