If you’ve ever heard a Lin-Manuel Miranda musical, you’ll know he smashes a lot of words into the show. According to MentalFloss.com, in the two-hour. twenty-three minute cast album of Hamilton there are 20,520 words. That’s 144 words per minute.
When we bought our tickets I knew I should listen to it a few times before we went. Several years ago my kids’ high school did In The Heights (another Lin-Manuel Miranda show) and it took me three viewings to catch the details. But life is busy and I did not prepare for the onslaught of words thrown at me in machine-gun rapidity when I saw Hamilton. It was glorious.
Of the 20,000 plus words, ten leapt out and stayed with me, nagging and poking.
If you stand for nothing, Burr, what’ll you fall for?
Aaron Burr’s advice to Alexander Hamilton and the others in 1776 New York City is “Talk less. Smile more. Don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for.” He cautioned that “fools who run their mouths off wind up dead.”
It’s applicable for 2020 America as well. We are allowed to stand for certain ideas and we are despised for disagreeing or questioning that which is controlling the public conversation. We may not wind up dead in the physical sense but we risk social death.
If I reject popular culture’s definition of feminism, I am labelled a woman hater. If I oppose abortion, I am also an enemy of women. I am bigoted if I say there are just two genders and they are non-changable. It goes on.
What should I do? I am tempted to follow Aaron Burr’s recommendation. It’s easy to keep my mouth shut and smile politely. It’s safe to stand for nothing. I keep myself out of the range of fire and avoid confrontation.
If I stand for nothing, what will I fall for?
Is that what it’s come to? And is that OK? Didn’t the framers of our Constitution guarantee our right to freedom of speech and religion in the First Amendment? Weren’t the Pilgrims fleeing religious persecution when they came to America?
Many people are asserting their rights. And I have the right to disagree. In theory, if everyone was nice about it, we’d be okay.
But not everyone is nice. Peggy Noonan wrote the following in the Wall Street Journal:
The past decade saw the rise of the woke progressives who dictate what words can be said and ideas held, thus poisoning and paralyzing American humor, drama, entertainment, culture and journalism. In the coming 10 years someone will effectively stand up to them … their entire program is accusation: you are racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic; you are a bigot, a villain, a white male, a patriarchal misogynist, your day is over … They claim to be vulnerable victims, and moral. Actually they’re not. They’re mean and seek to kill, and like all bullies are cowards. … Someone will finally move effectively against them. Who? How? That will be a story of the ’20s, and a good one.
I am not racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, a bigot, or a villain. I am a woman who does my best to practice my Catholic faith. I believe that God created all of us intentionally and beautifully and that the brokenness and sadness in our culture hurts Him. I know it hurts us.
My beliefs are not socially acceptable but they come from our Creator and I have to stand for them because it is the right thing to do and because I have children. I want them to have a mother who does that right thing. I can complain in private about the sad state of our society and nothing will change. I can use my voice and maybe nothing will change, but I will have done what I could.
My aim is not to judge. I don’t hate anyone. I want to do what Jesus told us to do: love him and love others and if I do, I have to speak the truth of what Jesus revealed. We are more than a spontaneous collection of cells that lives and dies. We are souls that can live forever in glory with the One who made us. I have learned that I am a beloved daughter of God and if I put him first, my life will have meaning and order.
So I have decided what I will stand and fall for: Jesus and his truth. I will pray for a soft heart and the right words. I don’t like the way our culture is moving. I don’t like seeing the sadness and hate. I want to live in a world where people love each other and God, and I want my children to live in that world too.
Copyright 2020 Merridith Frediani