What Will You Stand For?


Sign at site of Hamilton & Burr duel

There’s a line in the musical Hamilton when Alexander Hamilton asks Aaron Burr, “If you stand for nothing, what will you fall for?”

I was reminded of this line the other day while flipping through my copy of Brendon Burchard’s book The Charge, which came out almost a decade ago. In the second chapter, Burchard writes:

One of the most defining choices you can make in your entire life is deciding to control the quality of person you will be on an everyday basis. What will you stand for? What kind of positive values, standards, and beliefs will you demonstrate each day. How much honesty, integrity, fairness, and kindness will you insist upon when meeting the world? This is the stuff of character.

Brendon Burchard, The Charge, page 43.

In the previously mentioned musical, Hamilton was responding to Burr’s advice to not share his views on the imminent revolution, that Hamilton should “talk less, smile more, don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for.”

Just has Hamilton thought that Burr’s comments were ridiculous, especially in the face of the coming war, we each need to be willing to stand up for what aligns with our values. That is, as Burchard noted, “the stuff of character.”

Deciding to live in alignment with your values, standards, and beliefs, deciding to that that is who you want to be remembered as is great, as long as you put that into action. We live in challenging times (has there ever been a time that the world wasn’t a challenging place for people?) and are faced with hard decisions and the need to contribute in positive ways, we have to be clear with ourselves what we stand for, and then be clear in our actions.

This isn’t a one time decision. We have to decide to do this every year, every month, every week, and every day. We have to decide to do what we can each do to address the challenges we’re facing, whether that’s getting vaccinated, learning about residential schools or the history and on-going impact of racial intolerance, doing what we can to prevent worsening climate change, or even just being kind to a stranger.

To quote another member of the U.S. revolutionary generation (Benjamin Franklin), “we must all hang together … or we shall all hang separately.”

Each day, we need to wake up and decide “I’m going to be a person who makes a positive difference, even if it’s something small.”

Featured image courtesy of Billy Hathorn under a CC-BY-SA license.

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