The final of the 13 Virtues that Brother Franklin promoted is Tranquility. For some tranquility is what you achieve after death, a reward for a life well-lived. Brother Ben would argue differently. to be candid, I am not sure that pure tranquility can be achieved in this life. The tenets that are put forward in this article will certainly provide more moments of peace than otherwise but even diligent practice of these principles will not defeat all that a man will face.
Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable. Simple instructions requiring decades of practice to master, these are the words that Benjamin Franklin transcribed.
These 13 Virtues were written for all peoples who are interested in improving themselves and if truth be told, I came across them long before my Masonic journey began. I’ve found that the teachings we hold dear as a fraternity are intertwined with these virtues and that by putting to work the Virtues at the same time as the excellent lessons of Masonry, we’ll find ourselves so much further ahead in our growth. Perhaps even as designed, we should take the words “be not disturbed at trifles” to heart as early in our professions as possible.
What are the trifles that our esteemed Brother refers? I’ll start us off with one of the most prominent: offense. Offense at everything. It would seem that people take offense now just to be able to have a podium from which to scream their hate. I don’t know how many times I’ve been in public and someone I am with says to me, “Did you see that look she just gave me?” Offense has been taken in this circumstance and I honestly can’t say that I’ve ever been able to acknowledge that a “look” was given. Offense is being taken at everything now. Murals painted on walls that have been in existence for decades, statues, flags, clothing… everything.
We choose to be offended. That’s not something that anyone else can inflict upon us. Human beings have been given the ability to think with reason and we misuse this ability to bring about conflict. An example exists within our fraternity. Somewhere along the line, the ability to discuss politics as Brothers left us. Somewhere along the line, we lost the ability to hold differing opinions and still regard each other as equals. That, my friends, is a prime example of choosing to be offended within our own Order. Society today is not only heavily suffering from this affliction but is feeding the fire when in reality, this kind of blatant disturbance of a person’s peace of mind is self-defeating and a demonstration of immature thinking. Unfortunately, we all succumb to this disease eventually, some more frequently than others.
The psychology behind allowing individuals to walk their own path has given me more moments of tranquility than any other practice I’ve applied and I still struggle with it where my children are concerned. To be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable is to be able to focus on those aspects of our education that matter most. Life will throw curve balls at you, people you love and trust will betray that love and trust, and that which you thought you knew will prove to be questionable. How can a person not be disturbed?
Realize that you are in control of one thing and one thing only: yourself. No other being can force you to do that which you do not allow. The choice is always yours. No one can make you angry. No one can make you sad. No one can make you happy. No one. What you do within yourself is what matters. You decide that you aren’t going to take offense. You decide that you aren’t going to react in anger. You decide that you aren’t going to take the easy path. You.
Practice perfectly. Of course, we are not perfect people but the idea is to continue practicing until you’ve mastered the art. When you fail, pick yourself up again, realize when the errors were made and what they were, and then strive not to repeat them. Only through repeat practice—perfectly in motion and intent if not in execution—will we become masters of this act.
Analyze… always analyze. Perform self-diagnostics on a regular basis. Ask yourself how you’re doing while you review your actions for that day. Make note of areas you are striving to improve and what events led to you deciding (consciously or reflexively) to let go of your control. While practicing, you must review your efforts otherwise you cannot improve your practice.
I have found this concept to be one of the most life-changing and positive philosophies I’ve ever put to practice. When I am able to act in this regard, I am able to experience passages of tranquility that change the color of the day. Were all people able to do the same, we’d all experience much more serenity.
Share with me some of the ways you’ve been able to achieve tranquility in your life. I’d enjoy the opportunity to reflect on them.