Earlier this school year, I came across a Wall Street Journal fluff piece on a phenomenon described as the “Ben Franklin Circle” – groups of (often) Millennials who gathered to discuss Mr. Franklin’s virtues adapted to the modern world. I have often taught the excerpt from Ben Franklin’s autobiography where he presents his habits and schedules in American Lit, so the philosophy wasn’t new to me – but the club part was.
Last November, I also jumped on the bandwagon of the Bullet Journalers, also known as BuJo, an analog planner system that is taking the doodling mom racket by storm. I hosted a lunchtime introduction for students in September, and had quite a 27 ladies show to learn about how the system worked. The result of that initial meeting is the test drive of our own Concordia Ben Franklin Circle, which will meet once or twice monthly to bullet journal and discuss Franklin’s virtues – a little doodling and philosophy for our weekdays. I will update you on our little club’s progress as this year continues!
For those of you who are BuJo people, you will recognize this Franklin artifact as an 18th-century Habit Tracker:
Now obviously if you’ve studied Ben Franklin, you also know how HE chose to present himself in his reflective autobiography is generally not the same man we gossip about in history circles (he is often associated with orgies as much as with chastity). But for those who are not familiar with Ben Franklin, here are his thirteen virtues:
- Temperance. Eat not to dullness; 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 employ’d 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; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
- Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
- Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
- 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.
- Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
From Ben Franklin’s Autobiography, borrowed from thirteenvirtues.com