I was thrilled to see the trailer for “Hamilton” that came out today, and I’m counting down the days when I can watch it on Disney+. Sadly, I’ve never seen the stage production of the show, but my 12-year-old daughter and I have the entire soundtrack memorized almost word-for-word. (She also knows when we need to turn down the volume because something inappropriate is coming up. 😄)
When I think of this musical masterpiece, I contemplate on the many messages found in this musical, and one in particular is standing out today. Aaron Burr, whom we vilify for being the “d*mn fool that shot him,” was not only prideful (and Hamilton was no saint, either), but had what the title character found to be a loathsome philosophy about politics. “Talk less. Smile more. Don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for.” In other words, don’t take a stand. Don’t say anything controversial. Agree to be agreeable. As long as they like you, who cares what you believe in?
Nowadays, just as in the days of the American Revolution, we can’t afford to sit silently on the sidelines and adopt Burr’s philosophy. There are too many issues that matter and that need voices to make positive change occur for our communities, our state, and for our nation. If we’re unpopular, we’re unpopular. And that’s okay. But standing up for what we believe in is a great demonstration of courage and integrity.
“Hamilton” was also a tragedy that could easily have been avoided. Had our hero chosen to speak civilly with his opponent, had they chosen to disagree without being disagreeable, had they decided to lay down their pride and their guns, we would have had an altogether different outcome. We wouldn’t have had the amazing blockbuster of Broadway we have today, but, for Alexander and those who loved him, it would have been worth it.
My message from all this is twofold, and one that I wish I had understood long ago:
1. Take a stand. Educate yourselves on the issues of today and decide what matters most to you. Then let your political leaders and candidates (like myself) know your position. These people are supposed to represent YOU! Write them. Call them. Reach out to them. Make yourself heard!
2. Be civil. Be kind. Seek first to understand those you disagree with, then seek to be understood. Don’t lower yourselves to name-calling or violence of any kind. After you engage in civil discourse and you still disagree, take the high road and agree to disagree with kindness and respect. We can all avoid a lot of tragedy that way.
I look forward to the other lessons history and Hamilton have to teach me. (July 3rd on Disney+! 😄)