â€œIf you donâ€™t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.â€
Laurence J. Peter, US educator & writer (1919 – 1988)
Where are we going? What is the destiny of America? Who is responsible to save our nation?
It seems apparent that at this time in our history we are struggling to know where we should be going. Given the constant cries for a â€œbailoutâ€ for every form of financial crisis it seems that Americans have resigned themselves to government solutions to our problems. Many are now admitting that our financial crises have been contributed to (if not caused outright) by the governmentâ€™s unnatural involvement in this economy. Despite this we do not seem to have the courage, or foresight, to address our problems in any other way but through greater government debt, guarantees, etc. Certainly, the endless piling on of debt onto the backs of the American people cannot continue indefinitely.
Is this the direction we really want to go in, or is there any alternative?
To answer this question, I am reminded of Benjamin Franklin. Mr. Franklin has been called â€œthe quintessential Americanâ€ of his time. He was self-educated and after studying printing in his brotherâ€™s newspaper shop he went off on his own to Philadelphia, where he started his own printing company. As reported at The Franklin Institute website:
His most famous publications were a newspaper called The Pennsylvania Gazette and his annual Poor Richardâ€™s Almanack. He had many new ideas for publishing and he is known for printing cartoons, illustrated news stories, and letters to the editor. He believed in the power of the press, using his printing press as a way to bring the news to all people. He used cartoons and pictures so that everyone could understand the news, even people who had not learned to read.
Mr. Franklin was instrumental in bringing street lighting to Philadelphia. Ben also helped to set up the first postal system in Philadelphia. In order to make Philadelphia a safer city, he started the Union Fire Company in 1736. A few years later, in 1752, he set up Americaâ€™s first fire insurance company. He even organized a Night Watch and Militia to help keep peace and safety in Philadelphia. While in Paris, Ben proposed the idea of Daylight Savings Time.
In 1731, Ben founded Americaâ€™s first circulating library so that people could borrow books to read even though they might not have been able to afford to buy books to read. He discovered the conductivity of heat by color and established the first volunteer fire-fighting union (in the world!) and fire insurance company in Philadelphia.
In an incredible history of his life, The Real Benjamin Franklin, the essence of Mr. Franklin is revealed. I found it very interesting how creative he and his associates were. For example, he (and his â€œmaster-mindâ€ team) had the idea of laying bricks on one city block of Philadelphia. At that time, no city blocks were paved in the entire city. Despite naysayers, they went at it and successfully paved one of the city blocks. As a result, the citizens of Philadelphia became inspired and paved the entire downtown area. Mr. Franklin also devised the first lottery system in order to raise funds for the building of a church in Philadelphia.
He was instrumental in the implementation of a new money system for the colonies, including the printing of a new form of money, so the colonies would not be dependent on British notes.
Addressing other needs of his time he invented the lightning rod, through which he discovered electricity. He also invented the Franklin stove, which was a more efficient way to produce heat from wood (for which he refused a patent, as he stated it should be for the good of the people).
His other inventions include: bifocals, the glass harmonica, the library chair, swim fins, the long reach device, the catheter, and Daylight Savings Time.
So what can â€œGood old Benâ€ teach us today? To whom did Mr. Franklin look for the solutions of the problems of his day? He obviously took direct, personal responsibility for his environment and was not afraid to engage in the process of : â€œask and ye shall receive.â€
Given what he created and cognized, he clearly had opened himself up to receive alternative answers to the dilemmas he and his countrymen faced.
Itâ€™s amazing how we take so many of todayâ€™s institutions for granted, such as the library, volunteer fire departments, insurance, etc. We often fail to understand that it was committed individuals, such as Benjamin Franklin, who looked problems in their face and asked â€œhow can I help to solve this problem?â€ instead of: â€œgovernment, solve this for us, please!â€
As we see more and more of the failure of governments surface in the future, let us remember the greatness, the faithfulness and the true righteousness of men like Benjamin Franklin. Let us imbue into our soul their spirit of self-empowerment, and self-reliance. Let us have the courage to take back our sovereignty and our divine right of self government.
I have no doubt that we can save our nation, and end up where we want to go, if only we can remember who we really are.