Ben Franklin’s Big Boo-Boo
In his famous Autobiography, Ben Franklin proffers 13 virtues as ‘necessary or desirable.’ Necessary or desirable toward what, Franklin does not explicitly tell us. With Industry and Frugality leading the pack, however, Order and Resolution in close company, one can fairly infer what Franklin intended: If we want to be materially successful in this world, we had better comport ourselves in accordance with Ben’s 13 virtues. In short, we had better tend to business.
Two hundred-plus years later, the fruits of tending to business are plain to see – an SUV in every driveway, a Weber on every patio, a wide-screen TV in every media room, a smartphone in every pocket, a sartorial surfeit in every closet, a strip mall in every burb, and so on and so on.
If we will look, we also see something else, do we not? Expediency trumping principle, for example? Self-indulgence trumping public service? Career trumping family? Ambition trumping restraint? The profitable trumping the ethical? Accumulation trumping contribution? Rights trumping responsibilities? Despoliation trumping preservation? ‘Me’ trumping ‘thee’?
Is there a link here? Are we perhaps ‘tending to business’ a bit too much? Did the good doctor miss something?