Pious Resolutions

When Benjamin Franklin was 20, he drew up a list of 13 Virtues, attributes he believed were worth striving for in order the live a righteous life. Ben Franklin was a genius, but at 20 years old, he was perhaps a wee bit too idealistic or at the very least inexperienced to understand that some of his thirteen virtues were unattainable, at least for most folks.

So here they are, with commentary:

  1.  Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation. I sometimes have this argument with my husband—isn’t “elevation” part of the fun of drinking? Otherwise, why bother?
  2. Silence—Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation. Silence is wonderful but occasionally “trifling conversation” is, as the lyrics of What a Wonderful World remind us, a way of saying, “I love you.”
  3. Order—Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time. Okay by me.
  4. Resolution—Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve. I like the “resolve” part but the performance part? Sometimes.
  5. Frugality—Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing. Okay by me, so long as doing good to myself includes new shoes.
  6. Industry—Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions. Let’s remember that Ben was 20 when he wrote this.
  7. Sincerity–Of course.
  8. Justice– Absolutely.
  9. Moderation–Most of the time.
  10. Cleanliness–Who can argue with that?
  11. Tranquillity—Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable. Easier said than done. Again, Ben was only 20.
  12. Chastity—Rarely use venery but for health or offspring. I had to look up venery; one definition is “sexual intercourse.” I guess it depends on what BF means by “health.”
  13. Imitate Jesus and Socrates. This is a reach.

Have a Good Week!

Photo by Chris Liverani via



About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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