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Not Throwing Away Our Shot

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A photo posted by Charlie Capen (@charliecapen) on

My son fumbled through rap verses of “My Shot” from the musical Hamilton a couple nights ago. He just saw the play in NYC. Orchestra section. You can hear the jealousy in my voice, right? Well, he’s showing us how young, scrappy and hungry he is. He’s talking about rising up and we sing with him.

We’ve talked about the show’s incredibly talented, diverse cast of performers. It’s a picture of the world we want him to have: A communal space capable of great things when we partner together for a common purpose. Art is honestly one of the few things that makes much sense right now.

All the while, he’s watched us take a stand, march for causes, discuss our frustrations with our country and figure out what we can do to help. It can be disheartening, but our family’s patriotism stems from the feeling that we have for the dream this country embodies — not the people who serve us in government. So we give him lots of perspectives to consider about who and what comprise this country he lives in, especially those who are marginalized.

He’s starting to figure out that we are all immigrants of some kind. We’re on a journey together. Ultimately, whether or not we have different cultural lineages or backgrounds, we all emigrated from our mothers’ wombs. We’re all immigrants seeking a place to belong again. Adults seem to have the biggest problem letting people in but children understand this need in a very visceral way. We build walls from concrete instead of blocks. We judge each other before the other person has even spoken, while our kids are just looking for someone who will play with them. There’s a simplicity to childhood that adulthood complicates. My son wrinkles his nose and squints his eyes at our actions. He can’t seem to wrap his head around a lot of what we say and do.

If we live in fear, allow false prejudices to dictate our foreign policy and fail to speak out on behalf of each other, we’ll miss our shot. We’ll be the country who took away the chance for people to achieve greatness. We’ll cut the verse and chorus of “My Shot” down to throwing it away.

It’s a short life. We don’t get many shots. I just want him to have his shot so he can help others have theirs.

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