Wu practices moral perfection every day.
As mentioned in earlier posts this week, the intrepid Benjamin Franklin set for himself the task of attaining moral perfection. (El Cabrero is far to modest to say in passing that I accomplished this long ago.)
In his methodical way, he came up with a list of virtues, along with a brief maxim for each. He then set about working on one virtue per week until he ran through the list and then started over, even making a chart to note his progress. Here's the list:
Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself, i.e., waste nothing.
Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
Wrong none by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation.
Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
I don't know where to start with a list like that. I think things like industry, moderation, resolution and sincerity are OK, in moderation. But half the fun of speech is trifling conversation. As a cradle Episcopalian, I have some serious problems with including temperance on the list. And don't even mention order. Finally, since this is a family blog, I will leave venery to the Gentle Reader's imagination.
While I find the quest for moral perfection amusing in the highest, I do agree with Ben on this: one virtue at a time is plenty. Maybe even too much.
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