Throughout history, people have been concerned about figuring out their values and trying to live by them. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), the American printer, author, diplomat, and scientist, was one of the writers of the Declaration of Independence. He also helped draft the U.S. Constitution. In his autobiography, Franklin explains how he tried to change his behaviour by describing and then trying to live by his values, which he called “virtues.” How are Franklin’s value applicable today? Which is Franklin’s values do you share?
The Thirteen Virtues
1) Temperance: Eat not to dullness. Drink not to elevation.
2) Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.
3) Order: Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.
4) Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
5) Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself, i.e. waste nothing.
6) Industry: Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.
7) Sincerity: Use no harmful deceit. Think innocently and justly; if you speak, speak accordingly.
8) Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
9) Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10) Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
11) Tranquillity: Be not disturbed at trifles or at accidents common or unavoidable.
12) 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.
13) Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
[Taken from: Franklin Benjamin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and Selections from His Other Writings. New York: Random House, 1994, pg. 93-95. *Sexual activity.]
Lord, Give Us Today Our Daily Idea(s)