George. Freaking. Washington.

soft portrait_of_george_washington

“Simple truth is his best,
his greatest eulogy.”
– Abigail Adams, speaking of George Washington

America’s first President. General of the Continental Army. Dude on the $1 bill.

Everyone’s heard of George Washington – but what do they actually know about the guy? Answer: not much. He’s lent his name to countless institutions, organizations, and places, including a north-western state and the nation’s capital itself. His face is carved into a mountain. Yet for all this, he comes off as just about as relatable as the marble obelisk erected for him in D.C.

Truth is, this estrangement isn’t a new phenomenon – even in his own day, George was something of an enigma to his contemporaries. As you can imagine, 200 years haven’t improved the situation.

George Washington is the #1 example of the problematic way we have approached the American Founding Fathers for too many years. In our noble efforts to honor him, we have instead succeeded in making him inhuman and distant. If he seems boring, it’s because we made him that way. Which is such a shame, because I love George.

So let’s start afresh. Continue reading


Don’t Judge, Because You Just Don’t Know


“Be kind, for everyone you know is facing a great battle.”
Philo of Alexandria

Don’t judge what you don’t know, because you just don’t know.


I was in the checkout line with my small pile of necessities for dinner-makins plus a large box of Haagen Dazs chocolate almond covered ice cream bars (don’t judge. It was one of those days). The woman in front of me was fussing over her items as the clerk was scanning and carefully bagging her groceries. “No, no, no!” she snapped at the clerk, “I don’t want those things put together.” She hastily took a couple of things out of one bag and put them in another. “I like them like this!”

“Oh, I’m so sorry, ma’am,” the clerk was patiently accommodating. When her things were organized just-so, she paid the bill and walked out the door.

My turn. Her prickly attitude made me a little more conscious of my favorite clerk. I flashed a warm smile, “Looks like you’re having another busy day!” It was a feeble attempt to undo the bad energy that had just wafted through his checkstand. He smiled, trying to hide his embarrassment.  And just as he was scanning my Haagen Dazs, the lady returned, this time without her bags. Continue reading