I admit to being a bit of a revolutionary history geek. I've read a whole lot about Ben Franklin and lately I've been re-reading Walter Isaacson's 2003 biography "Benjamin Franklin - An American Life". After all, it's been four years since I last read it.
Ben Franklin believed in the common individual citizen and he believed in the power and wisdom of exploring the world around him. Often, this exploration took the form of debate. He was also the original American networking king who formed what he called the "Junto" to discuss events and forge relationships.
In the time we live in today, so much of our communication is quick and informal and never moves beyond "hey, how are you". I wonder if we stop often enough and explore the world around us. Are we taking time to evaluate what is going on in our country? Or, are we prone to staying busy in our own little world?
While reading the other day, I ran across Franklin's list or guide for the type of conversations the "Junto" might engage in. It's kind of funny and obviously not of our time, but it is worth checking out.
Here is a partial list of Franklin's guide:
- Have you met with anything in the author you last read remarkable or suited to be communicated to the Junto?
What new story have you lately heard agreeable for telling in conversation?
Hath any citizen in your knowledge failed in his business lately, and what have you heard of the cause?
Have you lately heard of any citizen's thriving well, and by what means?
Have you lately heard how any present rich man, here or elsewhere, got his estate?
Do you know of any fellow citizen who has lately done a worthy action deserving praise and imitation? Or who has committed an error proper for us to be warned against and avoid?
What unhappy effects of intemperance have you lately observed or heard? Of imprudence? of passion? Or of any other vice or folly?....
12. Hath any deserving stranger arrived in town since last meeting that you heard of? And what have you heard of his character or merits? And whether you think it lies in the power of the Junto to oblige him or encourage him as he deserves?...
14. Have you lately observed any defects in the laws of your country of which it would be proper to move the legislature for an amamendment?
15. Have you lately observed any encroachments on the just liberties of the people?
16. Has anybody attacked your reputation lately, and what can the Junto do towards securing it?
17. Is there any man who's friendship you want and which the Junto or any of them can procure for you?...
20. In what manner can the Junto or any of them assist you in any of your honorable designs?