The Moderator

The Moderator

I used to wonder what someone called a Moderator did. Moderate, I supposed, but what, exactly? And then one of my sons became one and I learnt what it meant, at least in relation to one specific branch of a religion. It still didn’t have a very cut-and-dried definition but, where God is concerned, it filled a vital role of restraining excesses. Oh, yes, I know there are more technical descriptions than that but for us simple lay people, restraint will do well.

The whole world needs moderating, to be frank. From the drummer in the pop band to the politician making unfulfillable promises in order to get elected; from the doctor prescribing the magic potion of the moment, to the CV writer hawking his wares to a potential employer. And as for the film producer with his special effects armoury, s/he needs moderation more than anyone, don’t you think? Why this need for moderation? ‘Excess’ rules, that’s why.

Even the language has become excessive through misuse. It is now a daily occurrence to hear someone educated refer to a person or event as ‘very unique’. ‘Unique’ will do, my friend – it cannot be exceeded. The Age of the Adjective has alas turned into the Exasperation of Excess. So much so that moderate statements are the only meaningful ones left, at least to those who cherish communication as if it were a dulcet violin not the sledgehammer it seems to have become.

Watch a market trading floor at work, at least until they were all algorithmatised. A screaming, hysterical mob fighting for attention like a bunch of Tasmanian Devils in a reformatory. All in the interests of making a bid. I remember the time when a well-known editor, Peregrine Worsthorne, used a four-letter word on television. He lost his job for doing so, perhaps a bit excessive. Now we count the number of times the four letter word is used per minute. Pointless.

Sales is the area of greatest offence. Promotions that are allowed, even by courts, as ‘permissible hyperbole’ have developed into such stupidity that the concept of truth appears long-since forgotten in the rush to roar louder. The claim that ‘Guinness is good for you’ now seems a truly temperate and gentle exhortation to imbibe. All the more effective for that.

At a beautiful charity event recently I asked those within earshot (when anyone was) if they found the music helpful. All indicated, some quite rudely, that it was too loud. So a perfectly good evening ended up with premature, if – for most people – only temporary, deafness plus a little permanent damage done to hundreds of ear drums. In the interests of what?

Developing our senses is one thing the human species has been good at. In the process we have enriched our lives, refined our tastes, learnt to appreciate in a way that no other animal appears able. That appreciation is one of fineness not brutality, of sensitivity to each other, not shoving to be best placed, of listening, not telling. Something that requires moderation.

Let us quietly applaud the moderator, the person who brings calm to turbulent times. S/he has an uphill struggle ahead.

I beg your pardon, what was that you said?