When I think of life’s challenges a quote by author Seth Godin often pops up in my brain; “If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.” Constantly confronted with moments and choices that can lead us toward different paths, decisions have to be made. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s life has been no different.
Before his Pulitzer Prize winning musical Hamilton: An American Musical became the darling of today’s new Broadway he was an artist teaching high school English during the day and writing in the evening. At this point in his life, he had graduated college but knew he was destined for something bigger than what he had. He put his passion and name on the line and shopped his musical In The Heights to Broadway producers for years. After being turned down time and time again, the moment he sought after seemed so far out of reach.
Miranda told a story of this time in his life during a commencement speech at the University of Pennsylvania a few days ago and it resonated with me and I hope it will with you. He was at a meeting, accompanied by his co-author of Heights, with a big-deal theatre producer. The producer wanted to back his show… with a few changes. “This doesn’t feel ‘high-stakes’ enough for this character. Let’s change it.” Those words from the producer echoed in Miranda’s head and he had a decision to make. He had poured his blood, sweat and tears into Heights (literally, he has said “if you cry when you hear my lyrics it’s because I cried writing them. It’s all a part of the recipe.”) Miranda was scared to say no to the status quo. Miranda was scared his dream of getting his show up off the page and onto a stage was in jeopardy if he did not submit. His legacy was on the line.
Miranda felt like the stakes were high enough. Convicted in this, he and his co-author decided to pass on the offer. Many years and rewrites later, Heights was produced with the stakes for the character remaining the same. The show went on to win the Tony for Best Musical of the Year. Unrelenting, he challenged the established culture of Broadway and won out.
This win paved the way for Hamilton to become a reality. In contrast with most shows on Broadway, “[Hamilton is the] first authentic hip-hop show” according to Questlove, who produced the cast album. A musical about “the ten-dollar founding father/without a father” is a story about “America then told by American’s now.” according to Miranda.
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s experience in his life and in his writing has more in common with our Sacred Purpose than you might think.
When Theta Chi launched Sacred Purpose in the spring of 2013, it was the culmination of hard work from brothers across North America. Sacrifices were made to ensure we would not compromise our own values to support the status quo. Our brothers needed guidance on how to talk about sexual assault, drugs, alcohol abuse, hazing and other hard-hitting issues. A few individuals volunteered to stand up and lead in the creation of Sacred Purpose and like Lin-Manuel Miranda, did not submit.
Our Sacred Purpose is unique to Greek life. Our Sacred Purpose takes courage to implement and time to develop. Our Sacred Purpose is challenging the idea of “Fraternity Culture”. Our Sacred Purpose is award winning. When brothers are elected into the office of Vice President of Health and Safety, they have to let Hamilton’s lines reverberate in their minds. “Just like my country/I’m young scrappy and hungry/and I’m not throwing away my shot.”
Hamilton “got a lot farther/by working a lot harder/by being a lot smarter/by being a self-starter.”
Our Sacred Purpose is the story of our founders then, lived by us now. Hamilton encourages us to work not for the moment, but for the movement; to think about how our lives can impact the world.
“We all relate to Hamilton. We all want to leave our mark. We all want to be fearless. It’s only a matter of time.”- Nicole Nadler, Contributor to the Daily Dot and fan of Hamilton