January 17: Let’s Celebrate “Benjamin Franklin Day”!

My husband and I took a tour of Monticello a few years ago, and as our tour guide regaled us with stories about Jefferson’s life, we both commented on how astonishing it was that one person was able to do so much.

Was it because of a solid work ethic? Perseverance? Intelligence? A lack of smart phones?

Although a lack of modern technology seems like a cheeky suggestion on the surface, just imagine how much more time we would all have to devote things that really matter if we just “unplugged.” Technology undoubtedly plays an important role in our lives, but think of the amount of time most of us waste online each day. What if we used that time to read? Or to write? To learn a new hobby? To be a more active participant in the world around us?

Unburdened and undistracted by the draw of the Internet, consider for moment what Benjamin Franklin contributed to the world.

  1. He was a leader. In 1754, he created the first political cartoon, the “Join or Die” image that spoke to the importance of uniting the colonies in their grievances against Britain. He helped repeal the Stamp Act in 1766. He was sent to France in 1776 as America’s first ambassador, and, by establishing a positive relationship, he helped secure the support of the French during the American Revolution.
  2. He was an inventor. If you’ve never been electrocuted during a thunderstorm (lightning rod), been able to read tiny print (bifocals), or gone scuba diving (swim fins), you have Franklin to thank.
  3. He was a writer. He helped draft the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.
  4. He valued learning. He was the founder of the University of Pennsylvania in 1740.
  5. He was committed to improving his community. He founded the first library, first volunteer fire department, first public hospital, and first insurance company.

We don’t all have the same resources or opportunities or finances or support. But every one of us has 24 hours in a day, and it’s up to each of us to decide how we will use that time.

Kudos to you if you choose to invest your time in the creation of life-changing inventions or documents that become the cornerstone of our country. But kudos to you, too, if you choose to invest your time in smaller pursuits of self and community improvement. Thank you to the artists, the bakers, the musicians, the designers, the athletes, the writers, the thinkers, and the leaders. The world is truly your oyster, and whenever you open that oyster, the world is better for it.

investing a little time in yourself each day to explore what makes your heart happy. Chances are, it will make others happy, too : )

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