In A World Mired In Ethical Politics, Hamilton Is A Reminder To Prioritise Greater Good Above All Else

For those steering the ship of state today, a night at “Hamilton” might serve as more than a cultural outing; it could be a lesson in the art of principled...
by Zat Astha

As America grapples with the moral implications of its foreign policy, particularly its controversial engagement in the Middle-East, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” reemerges as a cultural touchstone that offers more than just a lesson in history. It underscores the complex interplay between morality and power — a theme that resonates deeply with today’s political climate.

In “Hamilton,” America’s past is animated with the fervour of rap battles and lyrical debates, a fitting and somewhat ironic mirror to the contemporary turmoil happening now on the global stage.

The musical, while a dazzling spectacle of creativity, serves a dual purpose as both entertainment and a subtle critique of leadership and legacy. It prompts reflection on the virtues and vices that shape nations, spotlighting the American founders’ struggle to reconcile their ideals with their actions — a struggle painfully and pertinent today.

Photo: Danial Boud

A revisiting of values

At its core, “Hamilton” is about the messy, tumultuous process of building a country, a process fraught with personal ambition and political rivalry. Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant (“And it’s, it’s really astonishing that in a country founded by immigrants/ “Immigrant” has somehow become a bad word.”) who became an indelible part of America’s founding story, embodies the relentless pursuit of a legacy through the quagmire of ethical dilemmas and political warfare.

His story, as told through Miranda’s sharp and insightful lyrics, offers a fitting mirror to today’s leaders, reflecting the complexities of making decisions that will shape the future of a nation.

In “Hamilton” characters are presented as flawed individuals navigating the murky waters of morality and governance — a portrayal that invites audiences to question not just the decisions of the past but those of the present leadership as well.

Jason Arrow as Hamilton (Photo: Sam Bisso)

And how timely. Coming at a time when American foreign policy is under scrutiny for its moral implications, “Hamilton” offers a much-needed reminder of the importance of ethical leadership.

The musical’s exploration of historical figures grappling with right and wrong illuminates the ongoing debate about what it means to lead with integrity and suggests that those in power today might benefit from revisiting the foundational values discussed in these hip-hop-inflected debates on stage.

A surprising relevance

Still, while the show continues to be a theatrical triumph, its relevance extends beyond its artistic achievements. “Hamilton” compels us to consider how the past informs the present, how the actions of a few can alter the course of history, and how every decision must be weighed with consideration to both immediate and far-reaching ethical implications.

The musical’s call for a reflective look at leadership is further underscored by its diverse cast (Korean-American David Park shines as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson), which itself is a statement on America’s foundational promise of inclusivity and opportunity. This aspect of “Hamilton” serves to enrich its narrative and reinforces the idea that America’s strength lies in its diversity and its commitment to justice — principles that, on closer look, seem to be at odds with current geopolitical strategies.

David Park at far right, as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson (Photo: Joan Marcus)

And as “Hamilton” plays to audiences in 2024, one can regard it as a cultural critique, urging a reconsideration of what leadership should look like in a morally complex world. The show’s continuing relevance nine years after its first showing is also a testament to its ability to engage with contemporary issues through the lens of the past, offering both entertainment and a forum for critical reflection.

Thus, while “Hamilton” remains a pillar of Broadway, its greatest impact may, in fact, lie in its ability to provoke thought and inspire dialogue about leadership, morality, and the ongoing American experiment.

In a period marked by contentious politics and ethical questions on the global stage, Miranda’s work is a reminder of the enduring need for leaders who prioritise the greater good over fleeting gains. For those steering the ship of state today, a night at “Hamilton” might serve as more than a cultural outing; it could be a lesson in the art of principled leadership. One that the current crew of policymakers and diplomats could well afford to learn.

Hamilton runs in Singapore until 9th June 2024 at Marina Bay Sands, Sands Theatre.

This story originally published on The Peak Singapore.


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