"It Is Hard For an Empty Bag to Stand Upright"

Ben Franklin was a wise and clever man who attributed himself to many projects and services that promoted the greater good of the society. One such project was his annual newspaper called Poor Richard's Almanac. The almanac was full of sensible and humorous articles that people today still remember and live by. One of the most prudent sayings in the almanac is this one from 1757: "It is hard for an empty bag to stand upright."

The quote is blatantly true and means more than simply an empty bag lying on a dusty shelf somewhere. It is an attractive quote because it makes one think on how one relates to an empty bag. It cannot be a physical similarity because humans are not shapeless burlap bundles hung from a shelf, but rather, humans are like empty bags in an emotional or mental state if it is allowed to happen. So what does the quote mean? An empty bag cannot stand upright.

Without morals and ethics, humans are no more than bloodthirsty vultures, to put it poetically. If opinions do not exist and morals are absent from knowledge, what good can be done? No good. If Ben Franklin had not decided to make something of him and become a printer, the world would be a sorry place. He could have been an empty bag that sagged against the wall with all the other empty bags and done nothing to improve his life or society's. He could have simply said, "Everyone is mean to me, so I will keep to myself where it is safe." It most definitely would have been safe, but he would certainly not have accomplished the things he had if he did not leave his bubble of comfort. He helped lead America to freedom after all.

This quote is still relevant today as much as it was in 1757. Empty bags are not welcome. Humans have opinions; what else are those pretty pink brains there for other than to think by themselves? If morals and ethics are not behind actions, the motives are all wrong. Without morality, the world is left with senseless emptiness cushioning society's inevitable fall onto its backside. But if action is backed by goodwill and principles, the emptiness will be replaced by Egyptian cotton full of wisdom and peace. Empty bags can never stand upright. Full bags stand tall and graceful.


Author's Note: This was an essay I just had to complete for my English class. I actually had fun writing it. Surprise, surprise. It was about Ben Franklin and Poor Richard's Almanac. The challenge was to pick one of his famous quotes and apply it to modern life. Hmm... Did I do alright?