Each July, I look forward to celebrating the Independence Day holiday week not because of hot dogs (I don’t eat them) or corn on the cob (sadly, allergic) but because I get to devote one Sunday service every year to talking about our early mystics: the Founding Fathers and Mothers of our country.
I managed to squeeze in some information and reverence about my childhood hero: Benjamin Franklin. There is so much to be shared about this eclectic man who was a scholar, inventor, poet, politician and pragmatist–to say the least. Here is what I did share:
In 1726, at the age of 20, Benjamin Franklin created a system to develop his character. Franklin listed his thirteen virtues as:
- Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
- Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
- Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
- Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
- Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
- Industry. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
- Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
- Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
- Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
- Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
- Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
- Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
- Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
It seems that this list intrigued many people and they requested a copy of the virtues. (You can also go to www.thirteenvirtues.com for a beta version that will let you track your own progress with this system).
Although, Franklin is most associated with a kite, the Declaration of Independence or his roguish exploits, there is merit to what he offered in how he lived his life publicly and personally. One might want to meditate or contemplate each of his virtues and see where or how it could be of benefit.
Franklin humbly suggests that one might want to imitate Jesus or Socrates in one’s endeavours…I wonder if he ever thought that centuries later, I might want to imitate him.
WWFD? (What Would Franklin Do?)
(To view a portion of the Sunday talk,”Interdependence Day” you can go to):