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February 10, 1995 - Image 16

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-02-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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How Sincere Detroiter
Finds Order In Old Ben

ELIZABETH APPLEBAUM ASSOCIATE EDITOR

A

n American inventor who
died more than 200 years
ago has a lot going for him
when it comes to under-
standing modern dilemmas, Dr.
Michael Loren believes.
Benjamin Franklin's 12 values
for self-improvement are as rele-
vant and enlightening as when
Franklin first composed them,
Dr. Loren says.
"They just go right to your
heart, the way it feels when you
recognize the emes (truth) of
things."
Several months ago, Dr. Loren,
a Detroit native, applied one of
those virtues — industry — to his
concern about values and Amer-
ican youth, and he wrote a book.
Called What Counts (Overland
Park Press), it's based on
Franklin's system for self-exam-
ination.
It all started when Dr. Loren,
an allergist who now lives in
Kansas City, Mo., took to heart
his wife's frustrations. A teacher,
she began commenting more and
more frequently that "many of
her kids were getting out of con-
trol," Dr. Loren said. "But she also
told me, There's no way we can
teach values and virtues. Our
hands are tied."
Dr. Loren decided to help her
out by making a poster. It
wouldn't get into sticky religious
issues, but would instead focus
on something that had nothing
to do with the separation of
church and state and everything
to do with good moral character.
His inspiration was Benjamin
Franklin.
Having just read the famed in-
ventor's autobiography, Dr. Loren
says his first step was a slight re-
working of Franklin's values, to
bring them more up-to-date
(Franklin's "temperance" became
Dr. Loren's "alertness.")
The final collection: alertness,
silence, order, resolution, con-
servation, industry, sincerity, jus-
tice, moderation, health,
calmness, friendship and mod-
esty. The poster also asked a
morning question: "What good
shall I do this day?" and an
evening question: "What good
have I done today?"
The poster proved such a suc-
cess that Dr. Loren expanded it
to include a book, a kind of hand-
book about how to go about
achieving each goal.
Is a lack of resolution your
problem?
Dr. Loren recommends ways
to tackle your "To Do" list, how to
imagine successful completion
and how to clear your mind of
stress, so as to have energy for

the problem at hand.
Do you actually believe your
mother's assessment that you are
the smartest, best-looking and
most creative human being alive?
In his chapter on modesty, Dr.
Loren recommends ways to bet-
ter listen to others, take stock of
"daily reminders of our vulnera-
bility" and become involved in
charity, work.
Though initially prepared for
teachers, his book is applicable to
everyone from "a small child to a

Dr. Michael Loren takes a cue from Ben
Franklin.
business executive," Dr. Loren
says. "It is for everyone who
wants to be the best person he
can be."
Accompanying each chapter
are quotes, which Dr: Loren re-
searched for months. He didn't
want anything bitter or sarcas-
tic. His sources range from Mal-
colm X ("Armed with the
knowledge of our past, we can
with confidence charter a course
for our future," in the chapter on
alertness) to Chaim Weiziiiann
("Miracles sometimes occur, but
one has to work terribly hard for
them," in the chapter on indus-
try). Dr. Loren has done more
than merely write a book. He
lives it.
"My biggest problem is that I'm
impatient," he says. "Every day I
think, 'My life is almost over
with.' " (Hence his special inter-
est in a chapter on calmness.)
Although all virtues are im-
portant, Dr. Loren believes the
single most critical is silence.
"We make mistakes all the
time and we always will. Most of
the harm in this world occurs be-
cause of words," he says. "With
words, we can make or break a
person. We must choose our
words as though they were
bullets coming out of our
mouths." ❑

What Counts is available at to-,
cal bookstores includuag the Book
Beat and Bo e

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