Temperance Q2

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week One, Q2

Temperanceeat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

Personal notes:

  • Limit alcohol intake;
  • Reduce coffee;
  • Eat well rounded meals, no junk;
  • Temper temperance.

When coffee and alcohol lubricate the week, who has control, me or my appetites? Overindulgence leaves me feeling sluggish, slow, depressed. The physical and spiritual recovery is long. Excess drowns the pleasure.

There is reward in temperance, it returns strength and appreciation. When I step away from food and drink, the body feels fitter and my mind sharper. More interestingly, the simple joys that are lost from routine, return: the pleasure of red wine, the richness of steak’s fatty iron, the invigorating smell of coffee.

But there is more to temperance than food and drink, more than restraint in appetite; temperance is restraint in pride favoring humility, restraint in vengeance to fuel forgiveness, restraint in extravagance to build thrift. Or when my daughter throws her tin of toys through the air in church, restraint of anger for calm.

Temperance has grown in importance to me. I understand now that it is key to dominion over self, a domain over which I have never achieved mastery. It’s an area that I will practice, but right now, after a week off, I’m pretty excited for a martini.


Aristotle: “I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.”