What Can We Learn from Hamilton for 2017?

Posted: January 1, 2017 in Family, Fatherhood, Hamilton, Musicals
Tags: , , , , ,


“God help and forgive me . . . I wanna build something that’s going to outlive me” Aaron Burr, Hamilton

I will admit it: I am unashamedly and unabashedly in love with the musical Hamilton. Earlier this year, an old and dear Theatre friend and I reunited after 15 years and she completely surprised me with tickets to Hamilton, which was everything it is hyped up to be: a great story, clever lyrics, rich characters, dynamic acting, evocative music and truly captivating staging. But more than simply giving you a performance high, Hamilton also leaves you thinking. One thought has continued to linger as I contemplate entering into 2017 . . . it is captured in the Act II song “Room Where it Happens”

In this song, Aaron Burr- President Thomas Jefferson’s vice president- expresses his desire to be part of the decision making that was taking place behind closed doors. He was frustrated at only hearing about the results without being part of it. As we enter 2017, what is the room where it will happen. Will we be in it? It is easier to show up to the building than it is to show up in the room. Whether that building is the home or the office building, it is possible to keep showing up to a building but never really entering the room where it happens.

I experienced this difference recently with my two boys. Usually, when they get going with video games in the living room, I exit quickly to find a quiet spot in the house. This time round though, I stuck around and half-listened in as Christian was playing a combat game. At one point, he was having trouble winning a battle and repeatedly blamed the other character, the game system, the lighting- everything but himself. I asked him to pause the game and we talked about owning wins and losses, not making excuses and focusing on how to get better instead of blaming everything else. It was one of those father-son moments that only happened because I was in the room. 

Getting in the room has a price though. Being in a room is more intimate than simply showing up at the building. You can hide in a building, much harder to hide in a room (Also, unless you’re 5 years old and playing hide and seek, it’s a little awkward to be discovered hiding in a room). But in the room, you can be heard; you can be seen; you can contribute; you can change things. This is what Aaron Burr wanted to be a part of-what we can all be a part of. But Hamilton also warns that when you choose to be in the room “you get love for it, you get hate for it, you get nothing if you wait for it” 

So, in 2017, will we be in the room where it happens?

BLOG EXTRA!😉 While on the topic of Hamilton, here is a recording (link) I recently made of “Dear Theodosia”, Burr and Hamilton’s tribute ballad to their children as they contemplate their future .  . . Enjoy and have a blessed 2017!

http://www.smule.com/p/485830569_829501433

Comments
  1. Kenel says:

    Jonathan,

    The well-wishes for the New Year gave way to newer and well-intended ones. This, even as our lives reach the Nth dimension of hectic schedules. Yet, half way through the year, yours (Happy New Year filled of knowledge) continues to resonate. If “the room where it happens” is any indication, this intellectual fulfillment—a primer to be in the proverbial room of decision-making—is indispensable to parlay life’s teachings into a society that welcomes ideological differences.

    The riveting and sophisticated play by Hamilton musical (which I viewed on YouTube given your wonderful synopsis) suggests that informed citizens are a society’s vital lifeline to supplant tired ideas and complacency. The elite—those privileged to be in the room—sometimes ignore the elephant in the room while rejecting fresh perspectives. And, far too often those excluded are so far removed from the process that their sense of civic duty is an afterthought. Yes, sometimes illiteracy is the culprit. But, the loss of common decency is at play and is a pusillanimous foe that fosters ignorance and stunts progress.

    Sowing the seeds of intellectual curiosity and moral character is an individual responsibility (have good teachers is also crucial). We are always in a room—albeit a small room comparatively—and in it we make decisions that affect our lives. We’re not so much at an impasse as we suffer from an identity crisis on a global scale.

    Making an impact in the room while imparting wisdom to your son reminds us that anyone with a willing ear is as much a participant in the room as the bearer of wisdom. It demonstrates the power of good communication; one that continues to be a work in progress.

    Allow me, thus, to wish you Happy Father’s Day filled with disseminating wisdom, while being the recipient of their own!

    Best,
    Kenel

    Like

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