The 13 Virtues of Benjamin Franklin

Who’s is Benjamin Franklin?
Benjamin Franklin who lived in the 18th century(1706-1790) is a thinker, an innovator, a scientist and one of the U.S. Founding Fathers.
He was born in poverty to a candlemaker father, but with discipline, he brought himself to fortune.
He was a social worker.
He was a scientist and an inventor.
He was a politician.
He was an educator.
As he worked as a Printer, that’s what he called himself.

So what are the values, or virtues he lived by?
In his autobiography, he mentions his 13 virtues:
The 13 Virtues of Benjamin Franklin
1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
2. Silence: Speak not but what benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversations.
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 wast nothing.
6. Industry: Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, peak 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: Tolerance no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habituation.
11. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
12. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Let’s look at each Virtue.

1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation
This shows how Franklin would not eat to dullness, or the point where one can barely move after a fat meal, which would probably harm the body more than benefits it. It also reminds me of the arabic proverb:
There is no acumen with a full stomach”. (لا فطنة مع بطنة)

The second part: “drink not to elevation.”
I think elevation is mostly affiliated with alcohol; however, I would say that drinking too much of anything would be harmful, and of curse alcohol would be even more harmful (The U.S. recommends no more than one or two alcoholic drink a day; still, this is not to say weather this is good or not). Franklin did not drink alcohol anyhow, and always advised his acquaintances to not do it either.

2. Silence: Speak not but what benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversations.
Here, we can see that Franklin would not involve himself in trivial talks that would be probably waste of time and energy, for us, that’s probably means less trivial chats.

3. Order: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
Prioritize! That’s what every public speaker on self-development keeps repeating and repeating, as a matter of fact, I noticed that a lot of the self-development programs are highly influenced and developed from Franklins’ methods that he talks about in the rest of his autobiography.

4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
In other words, a dreamer keeps on dreaming, a visionary dreamer makes dreams come true.

5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e waste nothing.
That’s to use your time and expenses in what’s useful for you, or others, rather than buying stuff that probably not useful to you or to anyone else?

6. Industry: Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
What are the things that are abusing your time and energy? This reminds me of what Brain Tracy says, if you feel that something is taking too much of your time, ask yourself the following question:
Knowing what I know now, would I start this activity if  I wasn’t already doing it? [i.e already addictive?].
Probably it’s a good idea to reduce or eliminate it completely. (What come’s to your mind? Twitter? Facebook? T.V.?)

7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
Honesty and integrity in your words and actions? No decisive or harmful hidden intentions? Respect and appreciation? You say it.

8. Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
No harmful acts or words, and at the same time, not ignoring justice, but standing and supporting it? Doing your duties of supporting justice accordingly?

9. Moderation: Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
Balance is the key to all above right?

10. Cleanliness: Tolerance no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habituation.
Keep it classic! Of curse, to each culture, group of people their own clothing, yet that doesn’t go against classic, keep it nice and clean!

11. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
What does that mean to you? Be responsible? Be responsive rather than reactive? Keep calm and respectful no matter what the other person said/did? Respond according to your values, rather than the other person’s attitude?

12. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
Come on Frank, rarely? Are you kidding me? haha. Well, of curse probably don’t go too wild, and stay away from what can cause you diseases and harm.

13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
This one, “imitate Jesus” is very interesting, as far as I’m reading his autobiography, he is not the most religious person, and probably not so much affiliated with religion, as much as with values and virtues that a religion might have. This reminds me of Hamza Kashgari, or anyone, who would appreciate some of the values and virtues of a religion, but not necessarily sanctifies it or follow it blindly. And I would recommend anyone to seek for the good virtues and values of whomever is their model(s) on life, learn from their virtues, and avoid mistakes.

Last words
I think the life of Benjamin Franklin is a great school of life, as Mr. Benjamin Vauughan also wrote a letter to him asking him to write his autobiography, as he believed that his autobiography would be, as he said in his letter:

“But your biography will not merely teach self-education, but the education of a wise man and the wisest man will receive lights and improve his progress, by seeing detailed the conduct of another wise man”

-Benjamin Vauughan.

Well, I feel like the Founding Fathers wanted a free country and good citizens, but all they got is a free country and wasted citizens.

Some Franklinian quotes:

“Where there’s Marriage without Love, there will be Love without Marriage.”
“Human felicity is produced not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur every day.”
“A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.”
“She laughs at everything you say. Why? Because she has fine teeth.”

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