George Just Wants To Be Left Alone

Posted by on August 19, 2013

A Monday Morning Memo from The Wizard of Ads

George has been without a Daddy since he was ten years old. A quiet boy, George mostly likes to put seeds in the ground and then watch over them as they sprout and grow. He doesn’t get to do this very often though, because people are always taking advantage of George’s highly developed sense of duty. George mostly just wants to be left alone, but the people around him don’t seem to care what George wants. Duty is George’s undoing.

As a young man, George is involved in a protest against the government and his highly patriotic mother never forgives him. She complains bitterly about her “unpatriotic son” until the day she dies. “Oh, well,” thinks George, “No one is perfect.”

“Dutiful George” becomes widely known for quietly accomplishing whatever is asked of him and in later years, he wonders whether this might have been his biggest mistake. “No matter how much I do,” thinks George, “people always want me to do more. I never get to put seeds in the ground anymore, and even if I did, no one would give me the time to watch them sprout and grow.” George sometimes wonders whether things would have turned out differently if he had just learned to say, “No. You’ll have to find someone else.”

But George continues to do whatever is asked of him and when he is sixty-four, he surprises his employers by delivering a heartfelt speech in which he begs them to let him retire. His bosses keep George on the job for another three years, but late one autumn afternoon, George is finally given the freedom to return to his fields.

Day after day, George spends his retirement in quiet anticipation of springtime, thinking of seeds and soil and sunshine and of having plenty of time to watch things sprout and grow. Sadly, George dies that winter, having never had the chance to grow anything but a baby nation.

But we Americans are not an ungrateful people, so we print George’s face on our dollar bills and celebrate his birthday each February. And I, for one, quietly hope that George found some small satisfaction in planting the seeds of a nation and then watching that nation sprout and grow. I like to believe that if George had it all to do over again, he would make the same choices and do the same things.

How about you? Are you irritated that you are being asked to do your duty? Do you resent the fact that no one seems to be willing to let you do what you really want? Have you been asked to subvert your private desires to a greater good? If so, take a lesson from George and try to make the best of your situation. Maybe it will turn out all right in the end.

Roy H. Williams

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