The Wisdom of Benjamin Franklin

One of the famous quotations of Benjamin Franklin is this: “The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity.”

I have never heard a challenge to the quotation, but I wonder. Surely, his list of offerings to certain people sounds completely reasonable, but I wonder about the exclusivity of it all. Why not give a good example, for example, to an enemy as you give forgiveness? Why not give forgiveness, for example, to your mother or to yourself when standards are broken.

It seems to me that the “best thing” to give anyone is forgiveness when they have been unjust.

Yes, let us give forgiveness to an enemy….and to all others listed when it is appropriate. Let us give charity to all, as the wise Mr. Franklin says, and forgiveness is one aspect of charity, given when others offend.


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Categories: Famous People, Our Forgiveness Blog, What Forgiveness is


  1. Jessica says:

    Old Ben had wisdom. It is intriguing to see one of his famous quotes put under the forgiveness microscope. Did they have microscopes in Ben’s day?

  2. Fisher says:

    It is nice to see this famous quote once again from the wise Mr. Franklin. It is nice to see a new take on it, too.

  3. V.E.G. says:

    The future hero Jesse McCord Lewis and the person forgave the perpetrator is Scarlett Lewis. Both are cousins of Benjamin Franklin.


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