Meden Agan (μηδεν ἀγαν), “Nothing in excess.” These words were written on the temple of Apollo at Delphi along with the better known phrase, Gnothi Seauton (γνῶθι σεαυτόν), “Know thyself.” These two phrases come directly from the Greek view of “sin.” Sin was a word that meant, “To miss the mark.” Sin in the Greek religion had nothing to do with being in rebellion against the Gods, which is how it tends to be viewed in Christianity. Humans were to know themselves, and their place in society, so that they would know how hard to push and how high to aim their ambitions. Aim too high, and you could fall into hubris. Aim too low, and you were not living as well as you could. Moderation, the virtue of allowing yourself not to do anything to excess, was a good way to avoid the Greek version of sin. Too much of anything can over stimulate and flood the body to the point of poisoning the system (be it physical, mental, or spiritual). We can see this with food. Eating in moderation allows the body to not starve as well as not get sick from being overweight. Our modern society tends to want things in extremes and perhaps this is leading to the general ennui of our generation. One in ten Americans are currently on antidepressants, and although I do believe that there is more to this statistic then meets the eye, I wonder how much of it comes form the “X-Treme” fascination in our sports, drinks, sex, and whatever else the ads are trying to sell to the public. Epicurus, the founder of the Epicurean school of philosophy, said, “Be moderate in order to taste the joys of life in abundance.” It is through Moderation that we find balance.
Amanda Thomas is the Grove Organizer for the Ad Astra Grove. She also serves on the Topeka Interfaith Council.