When Adam partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil he learned a very simple, however complex truth: “There must needs be an opposition in all things…” (2 Ne. 2:11) In order for him (and in turn, all mankind) to experience one thing, he had to experience the other. Virtue/vice, health/sickness, pleasure/pain, light/darkness, etc. All of us know this principle to be true because we’ve all experienced it. In order to truly know happiness we have to be truly miserable at least some time in our life.
Where it gets complex for me is understanding and finding this thing called moderation. Philippians 4:5 states “Let your moderation be known unto all men.” Being that we need to experience both sides of everything, how do we know how much of each side to experience? This is clearly not an open invitation to sin (to gain said “experience”), but how do we know? One of the things that makes Christ perfect is that He has experienced opposition in all things. Are we not perfected until we experience all as He has? Does the Atonement also somehow make it possible for us to gain opposition experience? So, how can we truly know the happiness of being a free people in a free country if we’ve never lived in bondage?
I feel that this is a very important principle, because all around me I witness the foolishness of living to extremes. I find this true, even if applied to a single aspect of a person’s life. For example, we are often counseled to not adopt gospel hobbies (the Joseph F. Smith manual talks specifically about this). How many of us know someone who has done so and has since fallen away? There are those who spend an excessive amount of time with non-profit organizations, community theaters or other wholesome activities and leave no time for their own families. Conversely, there are some who elevate their family above the Gospel and discontinue their living of its principles because of an offense.
I’m not sure if there are any definitive answers to these questions but I’d love to hear any advice or personal experience that has helped any of you achieve moderation. The more I ponder and study this subject, the more I’m convinced that experiencing opposition and (perhaps more importantly) finding moderation is one of the basic reasons we come to this earth and one of the most essential things needed to achieve godhood.