Moderating Moderation

by Terence Jeyaretnam

There once lived a well-educated and cultured businessman in Ammon, called Abdul Ben-Ammi.  He was blessed with a good family, good health and an entrepreneurial spirit.  He worked hard, enjoyed life and slept well.

One day he learned that his wife was pregnant with their third child.  He was excited hearing this, and told all his friends and customers.  That night, he couldn’t sleep. It had been a few years since their last child, and he was somewhat older and a less energetic.  ‘I need to stay young….and see this child grow and blossom’ he thought, before he drifted off into sleep, and a long dream.

In his dream, Ben-Ammi met a younger, fitter, energetic and youthful Ben-Ammi – not what he used to look like, but just a more youthful yet older gentleman.  ‘What happened my friend?’ he exclaimed.  ‘A lot’ smiled the new man.  ‘I’ve learned something that they don’t teach you, but it’s a worldly lesson’, he said beaming.  ‘The world is meant to practice moderation….when it doesn’t, it becomes slowly poisoned’, he remarked rather philosophically.  ‘Even a life-giving medicine, is poisonous in excess…and this holds true to even how we live…we must practice moderation’, said the younger-looking Ben-Ammi.

‘But, I like my life, my food, my drinks, my pipe, and the things that I enjoy’, said Ben-Ammi.  And for the next few hours they discussed, argued, negotiated and moderated, about the what, how and when to practice moderation, until the conversation turned to the why, and the impending birth of his child.  He then understood.

When he woke up, he became a new man.  He changed his life immediately to one of moderation – in everything, from work, fun and enjoyment, to the way he ate, drank, smoked and lived.  He preached the message of moderation to all around him. And, by the time his son was born, he saw the younger, fitter, energetic and youthful Ben-Ammi, but mostly he was the happiest he had ever been.

This parable is intended to show the need for moderation in this world of today. Moderation is more important than ever before because of how quickly the world population has grown. From our ways of consumption to our expectations, we must practice moderation.  Even carbon dioxide is life-giving in the right amounts - the greenhouse layer is what brought Earth to life, but in excess, threatens our very existence.

Terence Jeyaretnam is a Director of Net Balance (, 
one of the world’s leading sustainability advisory firms.
Terence is based in Melbourne.