"All Mankind is Divided Into Three Classes..."
Some Aren't Buried Until They Are Seventy-five

Ben Franklin said, reflecting upon life, "All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move."

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

Franklin's critical assertion might seem at first glance to be somewhat judgmental especially of the immovable group. To a lesser extent, he addressed those that are movable but who have not yet moved. Interestingly, I think that was precisely why he wrote it in that manner. He was attempting to light the fire under both groups...specifically the immovable ones in American society.

Franklin surely did not fall into either the first or the second groupings. In his 84-years, he was a great politician, diplomat, publisher, printer, writer, philosopher, and scientist. Therefore, he certainly opted into the membership in the third class of Americans...those who acted without having to be prodded into action. He not only talked the talk but he walked the walk.

If Franklin were alive today, what would he think of America? What would he say about the big banks and Wall Street's influence in Washington? What would he think about shooting black men by white cops? What would he rail against related to the birthers or tea party?

Those questions beg the more important question. What would Franklin say to those who are immovable? My educated guess would be another Franklin comment, "Many people die at twenty-five and aren't buried until they are seventy-five."

As for the movable, Franklin would restate his words about being remembered, "If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing." In other words, "Act."

Franklin's entire life was in motion both mentally and physically. Every child by high school has learned about Franklin and his use of the kite in a rainstorm to prove that lightning and its electrical discharges.

Benjamin Franklin's electrical experiment

Benjamin Franklin's electrical experiment

Beyond his kite experiment, Franklin did research and testing on ideas of refrigeration, sea anchors, meteorology, and even improved upon the glass harmonica. He lived a life always in motion. Franklin led by example.

When I look back upon my 70+ years, I moved. However, I did not move as much as I move today. Dance with death a couple of times. It does not take long to realize that we possess a luxury that is short-lived...life. We all know that someday we will die, but most people think that with the emphasis on the someday. However, after successfully dancing with death, I realized, late in life, that I will die someday also. In addition, the adjective, someday, is a variable. Someday does not necessarily mean 50-years from now. Remember, Franklin said, "Many people die at twenty-five and aren't buried until they are seventy-five." Franklin wants us to avoid being merely a part of the group of the walking dead. However, we need to be a part of the third group...those that move and change things.

Death is a change agent. Steve Jobs said of death, "No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent."

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