For the past six months, Hamilton: An American Musical has been on repeat in my car.
The musical, written by the uber-talented Lin Manuel-Miranda, combines a lot of things that I love: American history, storytelling, and catchy beats. If you have listened to it (or have been lucky to see it) you can understand why tickets for his last performance were going for upwards of $20,000.
Once you get past getting swept away by the songs and the lyrics, the story that lies at the heart of this musical is the story of Alexander Hamilton, a boy born in the Caribbean, who essentially wrote his way out of poverty to end up in New York where he helped to shape a new country.
After a hurricane hit the Caribbean, he wrote a latter to his father to explain the devastation caused by the storm. This letter was published in the Royal Danish-American Gazette. The letter so impressed those who read it that community leaders took up a collection to send him to the mainland to get a proper education.
Think about that: his writing was so eloquent, those who had the means to do so collected money to put him on a path toward a better life.
Through writing and words, alone, he improved his lot in life and became someone, avoiding a fate (read: early death) that many men in his situation would face.
Get your education, don’t forget from whence you came, and the world is gonna know your name
As we enter 2017, I can’t help but think that we are on a downward trajectory, as far as respect for the written word and proper grammar.
I know very successful people who write Facebook posts and e-mail that my would cause my daughter to shake her head in disbelief. I can’t help but wonder how they advanced so far in life without proper communications skills.
It has gotten so bad that even our soon-to-be president sends out tweets that are riddled with punctuation errors and misspellings, and he is the person who represents our country.
Has grammar become so unimportant that we won’t even hold Donald Trump to a basic standard? Is it too much to ask that he use spellcheck during one of his early morning tweetstorms? He is the leader of the free world. But he comes across, at best, as a high school freshman when he attempts to use words to express a point.
For all of his perceived failings, President Obama, at the very least, was eloquent in his speech and communication. You may have hated him, but you cannot deny that he understood the importance of how language can play a role in an administration. I feel more comfortable about leadership when they can succinctly tell me what I need to know, rather than ramble on until we lose the thread of the message.
As we prepare for a major shift in how this administration will communicate to us what we need to know, it’s imperative that we understand the importance of communication.
For the past 240 years, this country’s direction has been guided by a written document that has stood the test of time.
It would be a disservice to our founding fathers to ignore the power of writing.