Over the past year, the Good Deed Brigade has featured articles on modern day local heroes who have given their time, skill, and heart to perform good deeds and wonderful acts of kindness. Hopefully, these profiles have inspired you to be a better person and to be part of the movement and philosophy promoted and embodied by the Good Deed Brigade. There is a well known hero who graced this country with his wisdom, courage, intellect, and, yes, acts of kindess and good deeds from 1706 - 1790 by the name of Benjamin Franklin.
Most people recognize the general work and contributions of Benjamin Franklin as a statesman, postmaster general, printer, writer, founding father, and inventor.
Among Franklin's body of work was his autobiography which was not quite finished as it was still being written up to the time of his death. Within the book, there are gems of knowledge, advice, and philosophy that we all can use even in this modern fast paced world we live in.
In particular, the 13 Virtues are worthy of mention and study. At the age of 20, Franklin created this system to track his day, good deeds, faults, and progress. His plan was to attain a form of perfection. Franklin learned later in life that was not possible; however, he realized that the attempt at perfection through the mastery of the 13 Virtues made him a better man who was content and very productive.
Franklin put the 13 Virtues in a particular order with the idea of focusing and mastering one virtue per week while keeping track of the slips of the virtues down the line from the virtue at hand. He kept a handwritten chart listing each virtue and each day of week. Here are the 13 Virtues along with a brief description provided by Franklin himself for each.
1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness and 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 hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
8. Justice: Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
9. Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.
11. 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.
12. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
As readily admitted by Franklin, nobody can be perfect or maintain the above virtues 100 % of the time but we can all strive to be better and do better. In addition to tracking his daily virtues, Franklin made it a point of maintaining a calendar with his general work and personal activities for the day.