Ben Franklin’s Bright Idea

According to one biographer, when Ben Franklin wanted to promote the idea of street lighting for the city of Philadelphia, he didn’t just make speeches to enthuse his fellow citizens about what a great idea it would be.  He installed a long bracket in front of his home and hung up an attractive lantern.  This he always kept spotless and lit it every evening as twilight fell.

Passers-by could see his cheerful light from quite a distance and this one bright spot in an otherwise dark street beckoned to them.  The glow silently recommended to everyone walking along the sidewalk what a great idea it was to see where they were stepping.  As time went on the citizens of the town were sold on the idea of street illumination.

How many of us rather wait until we’re sure others will follow before we’re willing to step out and be an example?  The censure of “What will others think if I do?” has probably been through the years a more powerful deterrent to good deeds than threats of fire and sword.

Could we rather take a lesson from Ben’s example and replace talk with positive action?  If there’s something we can do to hold up a clear, helpful light for all who pass by, let’s do it rather than keep suggesting to others that they should.


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