George and the Boys

Posted by Sean at 3:14 PM on Nov 12, 2015

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4 down, 361 to go. Columbus to Seattle.

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By now it’s possible that you’ve had the thought that what I’ve embarked upon is a little “out there”. The word “crazy” might have also popped up. Believe me, I understand. It isn’t lost on me that what I’m doing isn’t necessarily what one would call “normal”. But let me share something with you that might (or might not) give you a little more understanding of where I’m coming from.

As part of my research to figure out how to do something effective to fix our country, I spent a great deal of time trying to better understand the men who started it. People like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. I wanted to understand whom these men – and the others - really were, as people, not just as mythical, larger-than-life national treasures.

So I used my imagination to bring them alive and make them more human in my mind. For example, I imagined how it might have gone when John Adams suggested to the Continental Congress that George Washington head up the various colonial militias in an answer to the aggression from the British. In another instance, I pictured myself walking around Thomas Jefferson’s home with him as my tour guide. And I read a great deal about them all. Eventually, by doing this, I converted these mythical figures in my mind into real people. I got to a point where I felt familiar with them, as I might with a friend.

And at that point, things got interesting. The simple description I could tell you is that I just better understood them and the actions they took. But what really happened was more than that. The only way I can describe it is how you might feel when your friend has a big success, or failure, or when they’re in danger. To some degree - depending on the friend - you might actually feel what they’re going through. Well, that started happening for me as I read about Thomas and John and the rest. Various historic moments suddenly seemed to hold more significance.

For example, we all know they sent a letter – a declaration – to King George telling him that as far as they were concerned, he was no longer their ruler. To better understand the significance of this pronouncement, it’s important to understand that King George was the most powerful man on Earth at that time and commanded the world’s mightiest military. And in insanely stark contrast to this, the colonies were small, not organized and they didn’t have an army. Each of those individuals that signed that letter to their king (had things gone differently) had effectively signed his own death sentence, and each had put their families and friends in severe danger. The depth of their integrity and courage made a real impact on me. It was hard to brush off. What pangs of fear that must have hit them at times. What incredible courage they exhibited. What a crazy idea, thinking they might be able to defeat the mighty British!

In the end, I figured if they risked their lives to start our country, I could at least endure a little discomfort to try and improve it. Yes, it has taken hard work, and there will be more. Yes, I’ve spent money and taken on debt. It’s true I’m leaving my family for the year. And at times I might find myself exhausted, frustrated and even scared. But compared to what George, Thomas, John and the others risked so that I, my family and friends could have the luxury of enjoying the great freedoms they instituted - well, for me, there’s no comparison. And from all this – and you might also find this crazy – not only do I feel a duty to my children and friends to do what I can to improve my country, but I also feel one to George, and John and all the rest, to try and keep their original, bold dream of a better system of government alive.

Today was a travel day – goodbye Columbus, hello Seattle.