Benjamin Franklin, Household Chores, and Jurassic Park

I think Benjamin Franklin may be the greatest American of all time.

Franklin lived during the 1700s, an Age of Rationalism, and he felt that by living according to 13 carefully considered virtues, he could achieve moral perfection.

On earth.

Take that, Book of Genesis. Who’s kicked out now?

Unfortunately, Franklin found it difficult to live up to his virtues.

In his autobiography, Franklin confessed that he never mastered “Order.” I’m not sure he even started at it, since I’ve also read that some of the other American Revolutionaries were shocked to find treaties on his floor.

Oddly, of Franklin’s 13 virtues, Order may be the easiest one for me.

I was a pretty lazy teen, but I became a pretty systematically organized human being when I started working. I try to organize my schedule so that everything has a time and a place. Back in my previous life, I was doing pretty well.

Now that my wife and I live together, I feel like all of my carefully ordered systems are under stress.

Quite responsibly, my wife and I divided household duties. I am responsible for washing the dishes, making the bed, tidying up clutter, etc. My wife’s responsibilities are all mostly related to cleaning up after her four cats and two dogs. This is a great arrangement, because I don’t like cleaning up after her animals, and I especially dislike vacuuming.

It sounded like a perfect system.

I should have known better.

If there’s one thing that dystopian literature teaches us, it’s that even the most perfect systems will eventually be overrun by dinosaurs. And if a system seems perfect, it’s probably not.

In my humble opinion, my wonderful wife should clean up after the cats and dogs every day. Twice a day would be even better.

My wife’s approach is … less rigorous.

I have started to pick up her chores, quite generously.

But when I see that one of the cats has puked on the floor again, I am reminded of another of Franklin’s virtues, though it’s one that I find more difficult to live up to.

“Tranquility — Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.”

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2 Responses to “Benjamin Franklin, Household Chores, and Jurassic Park”

  1. This is a fantastic post, demonstrating all kinds of higher order thinking skills… and its interesting too. Thanks for providing us with food for thought.

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