Temperance and Anxiety

Dr. Ricardo B. de los Santos, PhD

The relationship between temperance and anxiety is not obvious. People have excesses that can bring about so much anxiety.

Oncologists can attest to the fact that protein intake especially from pork and beef is very much related to cancer. Cardiologists on the other hand would always caution about such food as they add up to bad cholesterol growth which could lead to hypertension and consequently a heart attack. And yet many of us would laugh at a vegetarian diet and take fish which is generally safe, to be a lowly meal not worth our notice. Man’s vice of gluttony the virtue of contradicting temperance in foods and could eventually lead to sickness and therefore the anxiety of untimely demise.

And how many of us could admit the ridiculous things we do when we are excessively inebriated? This state of intoxication could sadly bring about excesses in behavior that could bring about regrets. Maybe the tall tale of how the devil concocted the first ever liquor to intoxicate mankind has a grain of truth somehow if one would be cognizant enough to find it. The story says that at first the devil used the urine of the lamb and this explains why at the first stage, the drinker becomes silent and suspicious. Second, it took the urine of the parrot which is why in the second stage, the drinker becomes talkative and repetitive, expressing even nonsensical things. Then next, the urine of the monkey was used and this is the reason why the drunkard becomes physically uninhibited even up to being silly and immodest to his shame. And lastly, the urine of the lion was utilized and hence, the intoxicated person becomes aggressive and fierce, even willing to undergo a senseless crime. I learned this story from Crispulo Abalos, my stepfather, who himself learned it from his Spanish friends. And this must be the reason why he never drinks liquor. By the way, he drinks wine at dinner time but never excessively as borracheros do.

Consider the fact that even during the first stage anxiety can already consume a weak soul as he entertains even baseless suspicion against others. And the parrot will be sorry when he sobers up and realize that he has revealed secrets he should have kept or has kept repeating silly things which makes him now the butt of jokes. And those who monkey with drinking bouts could end up embarrassed for being rude or ashamed for being rude. And those who display their pride of lions in drinking sprees may end up in scandalous results: the jail cell, the hospital ward, or the wake for the dead.

The recent maladies have much to say about temperance and anxiety. HIV has spread silently all over the world and man’s lewd desire aids continuously with its onslaught. The experiences with ebola and other viruses have given ground to biological experiments which brought global tragedy. One must not dismiss right away the conspiracy theories regarding COVID-19 and the effects of 4G and 5G technology. Strangely, the Chinese had to dismiss the Christian French pioneering efforts in virology before the Wuhan outbreak. Evil intelligence goes against God’s wisdom and does not care for human life, even if it is systematized as a science. And now the emergent monkey fox spreads again because of lack of temperance in sexuality causing again a great anxiety.

On the other hand, those who indeed strive to practice discipline during these critical times have a greater chance of survival and lesser anxiety. The practice of basic health protocols concerning this disease are good examples of the practice of temperance and are therefore protected against mental instability.

When I say temperance, I do not necessarily mean Aristotle’s Golden Mean. In this regard, the average person may find the behavior of saints to be excessive. And yet that is how they temper themselves. They strive to be perfect as God, their ultimate objective is perfect. Hence, it was normal for St. Rose of Lima to carry a cross literally, for St. Francis Assissi to be extremely poor, for St. John Marie Vianney to just a boiled potato a day, or for St. Augustine to abandon the woman he loves. For these holy men and women, these saints, these are simply practices of temperance.

Moreover, though the kindness of Saints is an exemplar I find the kindness of some ordinary men and women to be alarming. For example, my father died of a heart attack in his rocking chair; silently at that after complaining to my mother that almost all his tools are gone because his relatives and friends are borrowing them and never returned them. If I were already a psychotherapist at that time, I would want him to express his anger instead of repressing his feeling to maintain his kindly acumen. I would also have advised my mother not to be overgenerous because our home is not the DSWD. Anxiety may attack in a silent expression of feelings or a bold expression of charity. Even the rule of thumb does not apply in the practice of temperance because thumbs come in different sizes.

Temperance is also essential not only in the foods that people consume but in the entertainment and information that they cater to. Too much time consumed in gaming erodes the vitality of the mind and too much fake news corrodes its sharpness and discernment.
In much the same way, let us temper our tounges as sharp instruments by the way we convey messages and practice wit and humor. But avoid the whetstone of the flesh for it is not a good expression of the soul. As in the sword we carry, too much sharpness can only be blunt.

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