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The Need for Inspiration

by Ian Doescher


I’ve been pondering the musical Hamilton recently–as it plays on constant repeat on my iPod–and thinking a lot about its success. It is the hottest show on Broadway right now, with tickets costing hundreds of dollars each. This coming Sunday night, it will likely win a gaggle of Tony Awards. I, of course, will be tuning in to find out.

Why has Hamilton become such a sensation? I think it has a lot to do with our need for inspiration. I think Hamilton is successful for the same reason the television show The West Wing was so successful: human beings long for inspiration. We all know there are political and social problems in this country and around the world too numerous to name. We all wish things were different. Of course, how things could look different varies based on our opinions, which is why we have so many political and social disagreements.

That said, I think Hamilton and The West Wing are both so successful because we all wish we were inspired by politics. We all know the United States was built on a crazy dream of democracy, a wild experiment by a bunch of rowdy upstarts that very well might not have worked. But it did work, and we get inspired when we see the nobility in politics, even if it’s in a musical or a TV show. We want to be inspired.

The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio will be upon us in a couple of months. The Olympics are another example of our human need for inspiration. For a few weeks, we will gather around our TVs to hear inspiring stories of athletes–the best in their fields–representing our country with pride. NBC is masterful at drawing out the emotions and the human stories behind the Olympic events. Those of us who don’t care about sports will suddenly be talking about rather arcane events like the 50 meter dash or the high dive. We will care because we will be witnessing human excellence and it will move us. Yes, it will inspire us.

What are you inspired by? How are you–either personally or through your work–inspiring others? If NBC were sold the rights to your life, would they feature you as one of their exciting, compelling, moving human interest stories, or would they play you at 3 a.m. when they don’t expect many people to be watching?

I’ll keep hunting for inspiration, whether I find it on Broadway or in Rio de Janeiro. I hope you will, too.

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