Inspirational Quotes From the Play "Hamilton, An American Musical"
The hit musical "Hamilton," tells the story of one of America’s Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton who was an immigrant from the West Indies. He became Washington’s chief adviser during the Revolutionary War and America's first Treasury Secretary after the war. From the time the play opened, it was sold out, sometimes years in advance and it continues to play to sold out audiences across the country and the world. While the play is a wonder in terms of musical composition and choreography, it is also filled with that are truly inspirational. song lyrics
Given that this musical is about one of the U.S. Founding Fathers, this quote seems particularly meaningful. The Founding Fathers did what they thought best for the country as it was formed, as it developed in their lifetimes and in the future. But this future only went so far as they had the capability of imagining.
There comes a point when we are limited in terms of what we believe will occur in the future. Five hundred years ago, no one could have come up with the idea of computers or the internet. Yet, since one thing must build upon another, there were important things that were accomplished, discovered, invented and created hundreds of years ago that were built upon until modern technology was possible. They will continue to be built upon in the foreseeable future and far this period, into a period we can’t begin to imagine, to establish more advanced technology that we can’t even think up in our head today.
Similarly, the Founding Fathers could not predict what effects they would have on the continued growth and development of the new nation they had such a large part in establishing. This idea isn’t just true of the Founding Fathers of the U.S. or other great leaders or influencers.
Each of us affects our immediate surroundings, friends and families but we rarely stop to realized that these effects not just go past this immediate environment but also will go forward into time to influence a future we cannot imagine. This should motivate us to try to make a positive difference, even if it is just a small one, in some aspect of our lives every day. This will provide not just an effect for the present but will provide things that can be built upon and which will have positive effects far into the future.
Hamilton asks this of Burr, implying that Burr has nothing that’s important enough for him to take a real stand. We can’t know exactly what actions make a difference. Unfortunately, we sometimes use this as an excuse to not take a stand when it’s important that we do so.
“What can my one vote do?” “Marching never helped anyone, it’s just a way for people to feel better about something they can’t change.” “Calling my legislator is pointless. He’ll never even know about it.” We come up with all kinds of reasons not to take a stand but don’t try nearly as hard to come up with reasons for doing so.
Ultimately, we don’t need reasons. We need to realize that apathy is contagious and it adds up. One vote may not matter in the greater scheme of things. But when you add that one vote to all the other single votes that would be cast by people saying the same thing, you end up with a whole lot of votes. And by making a point of casting your vote, or writing your congressman, or joining a March, and talking about it, you can influence others to also stand up for what they believe in, as well. The first step though, is determining what it is you stand for, what matters to you, what is important in your life.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. said: "If a man hasn't discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live."
Without a underlying meaning for the reason that you live, the things you believe in, and the people you love then you're not really living life at all. Ask yourself what matters so much to you that you would get up and yell about it? It doesn’t matter if you think this will actually make a difference. It just matters that you care.
This quote can be related to the previous one. It speaks to having an opinion and ensuring that it is truly your position. When we have a belief or opinion, something we feel strongly about, we are willing to present it to others. This is the case even when we know others don’t agree with us. When something has meaning for us or significance, we aren’t afraid to share it. We can debate with others about their opinions and they don’t threaten our viewpoint.
We have hopefully, spent time thinking through why we believe a certain way, have looked for things to back-up the way we think about things, honed and finely tuned our opinions. We don’t equivocate or apologize for feeling the way that we do. We can respect others’ opinions because of the strength of our own beliefs.
It is only when beliefs are hastily formed and we haven’t given much thought to them that we waver or feel reluctant to voice them. This is especially the case when among people who do seem to have well considered opinions which they can back up in different ways. When our opinions and beliefs change constantly it is a sign that we need to take a step back and really determine what we think. In this way, we can feel confident voicing our thoughts and feelings even when these are in the minority. When we are satisfied that our opinions are justified we don’t hide them. We wear them on our sleeve.
This is sung by Aaron Burr’s character, where he is reminding himself that he can’t control others actions only his own. Even when it seems unfair or perhaps that others lives are working out all but perfectly, his future depends on him. In an interview, when asked about this song, Miranda stated, "I think we’ve all had moments where we’ve seen friends and colleagues zoom past us, either to success, or to marriage, or to homeownership, while we lingered where we were—broke, single, jobless."
To take his words a step further, instead of letting these circumstances destroy our faith in ourselves and our abilities, it should motivate us to find a way to achieve what will make us happy. This may mean changing our goals or the manner in which we achieve them. It might also mean finding others who may be able to help us and asking them for advice, a recommendation, solutions to problem, information about available opportunities or to speak up on our behalf.
Instead of comparing ourselves to others, we can remind ourselves that we can control only our own thoughts, words and behaviors. Each of us is unique. We are an original with abilities and characteristics that belong to no one else.
In these lyrics, the character of Eliza, Hamilton’s Wife, is begging him to let her in, to let her be a part of his life so they can write the story of the future together. She doesn’t care if she’s married to a poor man, as long as they are together, that would be enough for her. I think this quote speaks to so many things and is one of the most powerful of the play.
First, it reminds us to not sit on the sidelines and watch life go by, but to be a part of what is going on, to enjoy life and be an active participant. Along these lines, I think it also points out that being a part of the narrative means similar things to some of the other quotes explored here. When we feel strongly about something, when it is important to us, we shouldn’t hide it but should make others aware of it.
Being part of the narrative also means finding those things in life that we would be willing to die for and fighting for them, taking a stand and encouraging others to do so as well. These are ways we can ultimately influence the story they write someday and how that story will reflect the reality of the things that we did as well as the future that built upon them.
These lyrics also underscore how we are interdependent on each other, how we all need each other. It suggests the importance of letting others in, trusting others and being trustworthy in return and being there for others as they are for us. Sometimes this is hard to do, especially when we have been hurt. But finding those special people who can contribute beauty, understanding and appreciation to our lives as well as being that type of person for others is something that makes life worth living. Knowing that we make a difference to others just as they do for us can add to our happiness and quality of life.
Ultimately, it is up to us to determine that this is the moment when we will begin to improve our life, change the things we feel need changing about ourselves and our world, speak out for what we believe in. It is up to us to determine that this is the moment when we will begin to make the most of what has been given to us, influence and determine what we attain in the future, and live a life that is satisfying and meaningful and help others do the same.
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© 2018 Natalie Frank