I admire Benjamin Franklin for many reasons. But I never knew that in 1726, at the age of 20, while on an 80-day ocean voyage from London back to Philadelphia, Franklin developed a “Plan” for regulating his future conduct. He was partially motivated by Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” He followed his Plan he “pretty faithfully” even to the age of 79 when he finally revealed it in his writings. After he wrote about it, he was even more determined to stick with The Plan for his remaining days because of the happiness he had enjoyed thus far by following it.
Benjamin Franklin’s “Plan” was made up of 13 virtues, each with short descriptions:
- Temperance: Eat not to dullness and 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 employed 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. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
- Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.
- 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.
- Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
- Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
What do you think of Franklin’s Plan, amigos bonitos? Do you think you could live by these standdards? Would you want to try to live by these standards?