Thanksgiving, of course, is always fitting, but in honor of our national celebration, we want to thank all our faithful readers for your ongoing support and encouragement.
We also thank God for the gift of words, language, and books. Our lives would be unimaginably dreary and dull without them, our minds weak and dim, our endeavors fruitless and friendless.
Since this week marks a national holiday, our thoughts especially turn to gratitude for our country. It is a young country as nations go, but without the labor and vision of many generations, we would not live in a place where books abound and knowledge is free for all.
One of those forefathers is the incomparable Benjamin Franklin. I just read his autobiography, which also included some excerpts from letters and other writings. I thought my readers would like a sample, a very minute one in comparison to his voluminous contributions to the world of words.
In describing the complaints of the times, he related a conversation. Some comrades prevailed upon a white-haired old gentleman in their midst to comment on the state of the country, namely, the appalling condition of taxation they felt was threatening to “ruin the country,” and their elder friend responded, “Friends and neighbors, the taxes indeed are very heavy. If those taxes laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them, but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly. And from these taxes our commissioners cannot ease or deliver us by allowing an abatement…it would be a hard government that taxed us one-tenth part of our time to be employed in its service, but idleness taxes many of us much more if we reckon all that is done in absolute sloth, or doing of nothing, with that which is spent in idle employments or amusements that amount to nothing. Sloth, by bringing on diseases absolutely shortens life. Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor wears, while the used key is always bright, as Poor Richard says. But, dost thou love life? Then, do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of, as Poor Richard says…If time is of all things most precious, then lost time must be the greatest prodigality. Lost time can never be found again. What we call ‘Time enough’ always proves little enough. Let us, therefore, be up and be doing…Sloth makes all things more difficult, but industry all things easy, as Poor Richard says…So what signifies wishing and hoping for better times? We make these times better if we bestir ourselves.”
Franklin clearly wasted little time. His Poor Richard’s almanac and pamphlets are full of such homey wisdom. Out of these seeds came a profitable and strong nation. So, as the Bible says, “Do not grow weary in well doing,” and, if I may make effort to reiterate yet again: little story seeds planted now with living ideas nourish the mind and produce a harvest in due time.
For the joy of reading,