Last weekend I finally saw the musical Hamilton with my daughter Jill. I was moved to tears throughout the show and noticed that many others around me were as well. There were too many moments of sheer brilliance to count. I felt enveloped in the full experience of witnessing the work of musical genius Lin-Manuel Miranda. The historical references jarred my embarrassingly minimal memory of American history. Coupled with the rapid pace of the lyrics, the show commanded my full attention. And, at the same time, thoughts flooded my mind in between songs and scenes.
The list of ideas racing through my mind grew as the play continued. I was almost relieved at intermission to have a few minutes of a reprieve to reflect on what I had just witnessed. The precarious and messy birth of our nation makes you realize how fragile democracy is and I could not help but wonder how we have arrived at this place in our country’s history. Themes of immigration, slavery, conflict, violence, legacy, and redemption are woven throughout the play. They are as relevant today as they were in the summer of 1776.
The music of Hamilton lives in your soul. There were two songs that I could not stop thinking about. The first is “One Last Time.” As George Washington decides to step down from office, he asks Hamilton to pen what would become his “Farewell Address.” President Obama collaborated with Lin-Manuel Miranda to create a version of “One Last Time” as he ended his presidency.
Incredible, powerful and a reminder of what we had…
The song that had me at the edge of my seat though was “The Room Where it Happens.” Lin-Manuel Miranda has called it one of the “best songs he’s ever written in his life.” As I listened to the lyrics, my mind raced to how important it is to be “in the room where It happens,” but how often that is not the case, especially for women. I was simultaneously inspired and outraged thinking about all of the women who have been excluded from so many “rooms where it happens.”
I thought about nursing and how we must be more vocal about the scope of our role. We need to be in the “room where it happens.” Nurses have to challenge the belief that our profession is not political. In fact, nursing is a radically political role, we have a license to touch people. I don’t think there is anything more political than that.
To quote my friend Jerry Soucy, aka, The Death Nurse
And then I saw this picture of Nancy Pelosi standing in her power. She was the only woman at the table and one of two “in the room where it happens.” It might just become the iconic picture of this moment in history, which I imagine will be studied and judged harshly for the unconscionable policies of this administration.
Hamilton, An American Musical changed my brain in ways that I am working to understand. One thing it did was remind me how important our voices are in the fight to protect our democracy. It is not enough to have a seat at the table, we have to have a say “in the room where it happens.”