This Column Now Powered By Benjamin Franklin


Or rather now moderated by Dr. Franklin. No, he doesn’t sit on the desk playing with a kite and a key and cautioning me whenever I overstep the bounds – at least I don’t think he does – but two of his works sit here and do; Poor Richard’s Almanack and his autobiography. I am currently re-reading, with pleasure and profit, the latter volume.

His is not the only writing that is gaining influence with me – I am currently re-reading Tom Paine and trying to get benefit from a venerable Chinese philosopher, Mo Zi. But we shall concentrate on Dr. Franklin’s influence.

Yesterday it caused me to delete one of the darkest and wittiest postings I have written for a long time – deleted it before you saw it. The post was written in reaction to something – always a dangerous bombshell that – and was written during my daily cocktail hour. This was like putting a fuse into the bombshell and groping around for the matches. Fortunately dinner and the workshop called me away before I struck the lucifer.

Dr. Franklin wrote of a similar situation in his youth, though I am not sure if he was using an iMac computer at the time. In any event, a kind Quaker friend let him know of his incipient error before he published something that would have done him harm, and he was saved from it. I have no Quakers about me, though I have attended their services, but at least I can delve into good advice from some 268 years ago by means of the printed word. How appropriate that he was a printer.

I really will have to institute a rule that I once formulated while in practise; to write what I would in response to provocation, but to physically shelve the letter for about a week. Often the rage and desire for confrontation waned in a day and sometimes the original cause proved to be insubstantial. It prevented bad feeling then and I think it will do so again. I must not give way to the temptation that the internet provides for the snap shot of wit.

By the same token, Dr. Franklin urges us to command and drive our businesses diligently and I also used this advice to compose a letter pressing for payment of an account – a very business-like letter that had no raw feeling. I shall be interested to see if it has the desired effect.


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