Benjamin Franklin's Civic Creations and Lessons: What can society learn from them today?

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            Franklin's tangible creations such the fire company, library, paved roads and his conceptual contributions created in order to improve the livelihood of each citizen are both applicable to each citizen's life today. Franklin's vision of the world was so beyond his time that people still study his brilliance in order to put it into practice. He is a true role model to be admired from his many attributions during his lifetime that remained to enforce his legacy but his civic contributions are down right outstanding. When questioning if a concept or institution is going to last they often say, will it last the test of it and for Franklin's civic contributions the answer is simply, yes.

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Photo: http://www.pbs.org/benfranklin/l3_citizen_firefighter.html            

As seen in any town, city, or state, the invention of streetlights, watchmen, fire companies, libraries, the right to a public education, The Philadelphia Contributorship, even Franklin's original invention of the stove paved the way for society to be able to create a better and safer tomorrow. His passion to protect the citizens of his area and create sustainable institution for his country by bringing people together for a good cause is something people still dream about accomplishing today. Franklin's dedication to his country is one of the many reasons he is one of the most revered Founding Fathers of all time. Furthermore, his values, and stance on how to leave a most rewarding life are something to be admired. However, are these values within our society today?

            Consider the fact that Franklin's proverbs from Poor Richard's Almanack are still passed on today such as,   

 

A penny saved is a penny earned

 

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise

 

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

 

Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead

 

I was raised on such values as the first three throughout my childhood because it is wise advice. However, do I feel that my family or the people around me keep to such values today? No. Franklin's proverbs and lessons are certainly relevant yet few seem to listen to wise advice from a well-accredited role model. 

Franklin passed moralistic lessons about the dangers of drink in articles such as "Death of a Drunk" and "On Drunkenness."  Writing on Franklin's temperance pieces as a whole, Arner writes: "Like Franklin's writings on other subjects, they demonstrate a deep and abiding belief in the power of the press to educate the public on important topical issues, often employing humor but sometimes also resorting to sensationalism in order to make their messages more explicit and dramatic." Consider the university we attend and the reputation we have created. Franklin would be appalled by the actions of a large amount of students who claim to be here for the purpose of education, but turn to a night of wild parties instead. As Franklin said in his autobiography he thinks that drinking in moderation is acceptable but he does not see the need to go as far as students do. I shutter to think of his reaction if he were here to see that State College hospitals, an innovation from his promotion in his paper in Philadelphia, to help heal sick people, is now mostly cater to over inebriated students going to hard to even make their class in the morning. Franklin's value of the need for education and self-improvement daily seem to go right out the window in this scenario.


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Photo: http://bfms.frco.k12.va.us/character-counts/index.html            

As for his other writings of wisdom such as On Simplicity, Silence Dogood, and An Economical Project, Franklin attempts to help people see the importance in maintain a simple life that is easy and enjoyable to sustain, yet few seem to follow through on this practice. It seems ironic that many people wonder why they are so often stressed when they are the ones responsible. Consider even finals as Franklin states "if you have something to do tomorrow, do it today" I am sure that students wait until the last possible 2 hours to study or work on their project in order to procrastinate hard work. Yet throughout Franklin's writings he seems to believe that hard work is necessity to succeed at anything in any lifetime.

            Society should also consider Franklin's forward thinking of the issues pertaining to the issue of wasting energy and the economy. It was as though he could almost see into the future complication and was trying to warn us that without awareness we slip down a slippery slope; which is what happen to many people after the recession. If all practiced the proverbs and advice that Benjamin Franklin made available through experience of going from nothing to a man known 300 years later, it may have saved a lot of people the loss of property and jobs.

            Benjamin Franklin's civic creations changed the way society lived back then and who knows what we would have had to combat the issues he foresaw back then now if he did not take the initiative he did. Since most of his creations and innovations are still in place it certainly shows that he is a man wise beyond his time, smart enough to utilize every opportunity given to him even when he was in a place of power. As for his civic virtue, he gave society someone to continue to look up to even centuries later for his awareness of how to live a fulfilling life without over doing the indulgences. Franklin's ideas about good citizens being ones who led a simple and virtuous life, of on going self improvement, aiming always to be honest and live within ones means and moderation is advice that we could all use, especially as former college students with the real world rapidly approaching. 

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Photo: http://bunow.com/27111-college-students-struggling-with-making-ends-meet/ben-franklin-wearing-graduation-cap-on-one-hundred-dollar-bill

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