What would Benjamin Franklin be doing today?

One of the secrets of a well-lived life is to not go too deep into any of its components.

I am reading Benjamin Franklin’s biography.

Fascinating person he was.

He was ambitious from a pretty young age. He ran from home when he was 17 because he was dissatisfied with the way his brother treated him. He achieved professional success in the new city thanks to his remarkable social abilities.

He somehow identified the usefulness of people he came across and managed to make them do things for him. Take the case of his voyage to Philadelphia. He managed to find a person and convince that person to give the address of someone who would give him work in a new city.

That is some serious ability.

I mean, here I am — in my thirties — in Canada for two months now and all I have managed to do is say hello to the convenience store person. If it was Benjamin Franklin, he would have already been an integral part of Canadian online media and pushed competitors to bankruptcy.


He would have done that when he was 20.

If he was 30 and in the 21st century, he would have already:

  • Established a successful media business
  • Been in some government position
  • Formed a group to discuss modern issues and use the group’s members to leverage his business
  • Been involved in some form of modern currency broadcasting?
  • Come up with a new organizational model to tackle fire
  • Written about politics and influenced it

Among many things.

Or given his nature, he would have done something that is unfathomable to the modern mind.

At this point, I don’t know or care about his social and political impact. I am not an American and I don’t think I have the right and knowledge to talk about it.

I am fascinated by him as a professional because he was a good writer and a good businessman. He used his writing to leverage his business and his business to leverage his writing. And he made some scientific discoveries/inventions.

I am fascinated by him as a thinker because he managed to cut through a lot of intellectual crap and find a worldview that balanced both introspection and practicality. He saved himself from the philosophical rabbit hole — which may have been so tempting given his early exposure to books.

He may be looked upon as a canny social/political figure (the kind of people we don’t lack in our world today) but he also made some spiritual sense (the kind of sense we lack in our world today). He came up with a list of virtues when he was really young. It is something Plutarch would have done. And Plutarch too was involved in social affairs, by the way.

I look at him as someone who managed to live in a way that allowed him to experience all juices of life without going too deep into any.

In fact, I am starting to believe that one of the secrets of a well-lived life is to not go too deep into any of its aspects.

I mean, just as too much of philosophy would have taken him down an abyss and he would have been forced to talk about the abyss staring back at him, too much of practicality would have also taken him down there. In the form of power-hunger. I think he knew how much influence he wanted to exert in society and how much was too much.

Just like he would have used significant people, we can use him as a symbol to remind ourselves that a balance between spiritual and social pursuits is possible.

I see him as one of those rare people who have reached the circle of wisdom. (Yes, I am starting to see a big circle of wisdom with not many people inside.) I will try to seek other members of that circle and write about them here.