This is a hard one. Dr. Franklin believed in looking squarely and unflinchingly at problems, and never indulging in the luxury of comforting lies. He continually warned his almanac readers not deceive themselves, to be skeptical, and never abandon themselves to wishful thinking. (“He that lives upon hope will die fasting.”)
But he also urged people to look beyond small details, to forgive injuries, and never lose sight of the big picture. You can hear his optimism in his Poor Richard maxim: “Energy and persistence conquer all things.”
Still, it’s difficult to tell how Ben would respond to the Obama administration’s announcement in November that the economy was showing signs of improvement — one sign, actually. Americans were losing their jobs more slowly. The unemployment rate had fallen back to 10%. At any other time, such numbers would be depressing, but America is looking for any sign of promise.
Reading this, Ben would probably caution us to question any news that our ailing economy is recovering. He would advise caution, and rigorous frugality — but then, he always did. (“Rather go to bed without dinner than to rise in debt.”) He would remind us that good fortune rarely comes in large packages, accompanied by trumpets and a press conference. A good sign is when the little bits of encouraging news start to show up regularly.
“Human felicity is produced not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen as by little advantages that occur every day.”