Best History Lesson Ever

21 December 2017

Times Square

Emma and I saw Hamilton on Broadway tonight. In New Orleans I learnt about the 1800s. Combined with yesterday’s tour of Washington DC; Hamilton, covering 1776 onwards, gave me a better understanding of America’s gain of independence and its initial years. Sure, there are plenty of historical inaccuracies and dramatisations but it provided context and an enjoyable experience to boot. I beamed all the way through it. Except for the few tears I shed at one point. One audience member, thankfully several seats away, sobbed. 

Set of Hamilton

While Emma and I were at Hamilton, John and Griffin were at The Lion King.


Earlier in the day we felt rather close to history as it was happening (even closer than yesterday in Washington DC) when we toured the United Nations (UN) building in New York. During our tour, the UN general assembly voted against Trump naming Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. There is not bite in this bark, a mere symbolic gesture, but still the USA might take revenge in spite, if Nikki Haley’s threats are carried out (Nikki Haley is the USA’s ambassador to the UN). 

When we left the UN building there were news reporters and a strong presence of police and secret service around. As we walked past a laneway where two black SUVs with small flashing red and blue lights blocked the road, Emma spotted Nikki Haley climbing into one of the cars. John tried to subtly take a photo of this moment:


Our UN tour, like yesterday, had multiple nationalities in attendance: British, Chinese, Swedish, Iranian, Dutch and us Australians. I enjoyed a short but intense discussion with two students (British and Chinese) from the London School of Economics about whether the UN really has a purpose in the world today, given it doesn’t have much of a bite and the USA just does what it wants anyway. I argued the symbolism of what constitutes good moral behaviour of a nation is important. The return fire was that the UN declarations (eg of human rights) are too subjective. I agreed but said it’s better than nothing and that when I teach human rights I want my students to question these statements, not accept them as universal, absolute, objective truths. We all enjoyed the conversation and I’m sure we all went our separate ways happier for it.


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