Wisdom From Good Ol’ Ben

I am getting back to reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Ben Franklin (because I am on hold at the library for the new one on Leonardo DaVinci).

Ben told this fable once about a father and a son traveling with a donkey:

When the father rode and made his son walk, they were criticized by those they met; likewise, they were criticized when the son rode and make the father walk, or when they both rode the donkey, or when neither did. So finally, they decided to throw the donkey off a bridge. (P.67,68)

He was speaking about his experience with his printing business–the moral was that it is foolish to try to avoid all criticism and please everyone. People haven’t changed much since his day, it seems…

It isn’t good to live just trying to not tick people off nor is it good to just stir the pot and ruffle people’s feathers for fun or attention (or views). The middle and best road is to just look inside your heart for your principles, look outside your heart for the particular circumstances, then act in the best way in that situation to try to uphold those principles. This goes for people in all professions, but especially for writers–if you try to please everyone, what value and interest is that? If you just try to irritate and inflame people, that is disingenuous and also boring after a while. People have a love/hate relationship with the Truth–they long for it, but also resist it. “The truth hurts,” as they say… Maybe people will appreciate it, maybe they will try to carry me off with torches and pitchforks in the night–but this is my personal calling–to seek the Truth, live it, and share it with others. I would prefer to be ridiculed for having integrity than to praised for being a pretender or coward.

Your $0.02