MODERATION

The mark of a moderate man

is freedom from his own ideas.

Tolerant like the sky,

all-pervading like sunlight,

firm like a mountain,

supple like a tree in the wind,

he has no destination in view

and makes use of anything life happens to bring his way.

Nothing is impossible for him.

Because he has let go,

he can care for the people's welfare

as a mother cares for her child.

- Lao Tzu


The other day I read a bumper sticker that said, "Don't believe everything you think". It's true. We get so caught up in our own little plans and designs for how we think the world should work, that we often forget that the world is what it is quite independently from what we might want it to be . . . our little judgments and desires.

In the practice of law, an attorney has a daily choice of two mental positions: open or closed. My goal is to default at open, though it's practice not perfection, and I often have to remind myself of this, my lofty, albeit quite attainable objective, several times a day. It's not so easy if you're really honest with yourself. REALLY honest.

No, it's quite hard to be open-minded, because open-mindedness means fearlessness, and, unfortunately, FEAR is the most powerful force in our world today. I believe fear, not money, to be the root of all evil; greed is but a concomitant manifestation of fear. Most people are shot through with it and don't even realize it, and sometimes I am too, but that's when I have to remind myself that fear is an illusion, the greatest, and certainly the most destructive illusion of all. But fear is a subjective construct of our minds, not an objective reality. We decide to fear moment by moment, and to fear is to be close-minded, and to be close-minded is to cut oneself off from one's fellow human beings.

This is true suffering.

So, the open-minded attorney is a rare, but rough and common stone in the legal profession. It's an ideal, not a permanent state of being. My goal is to remain as open-minded as possible, moment by moment; I think I'm batting around .300 if I'm really honest with myself. But, as with everything human, it's once again progress not perfection. No one bats .1000. No one. That's God.

- M. Chappell