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 Innovation/Global Risk

One Small Tear….

By Shlomo Maital


  In a famous experiment that won it a Pulitzer Prize, the Washington Post sent world-famous concert violinist Joshua Bell to play in the Metro subway stations.   Very few people paid him any attention.  Basically they neither heard nor saw what others paid hundreds of dollars to hear in a concert hall.  The reason: Habit. We assume that a street musician cannot be worth stopping and listening to. 

   The experiment was attempted here in Israel, by a local Channel, using a cellist with 24 years’ seniority playing for the Israeli Philharmonic —  one of the world’s great orchestras, directed by Zubin Mehta.  The cellist set up in a shopping mall, in a poorer district, and in the lobby of a Tel Aviv theatre, Kameri.  He played familiar melodies with stunning vibrato. 

    Results?  He raised NIS 70 (about $20).  Most people ignored him. He got twice as much money in the poorer district as in the rich shopping mall.  And at the Kameri Theatre, where presumably highly-cultured knowledgeable people flock, hundreds walked right by the cellist without even glancing at him.

    There was one exception, in the poor neighborhood.  The TV interviewer spoke with a woman, who stopped to listen, and wiped a tear from her eye.  Why are you crying? asked the journalist.  “Such a wonderful musician!” she said. “Such beautiful music!  And…he has to play on the street.  It’s so sad!”   

    One tear. 

    I think we should shed a tear, for the singularity and tragedy that only one tear was shed.   Do YOU walk by street musicians, without popping a coin into his hat? (I know someone who has transformed himself, and as part of the transformation, puts coins into EVERY street musician he passes).   Do you wonder why they ARE street musicians?  Do you walk by, without caring, when you see pain, suffering, homelessness?  And why has modern life made us so damned uncaring?    


Blog entries written by Prof. Shlomo Maital

Shlomo Maital
March 2012
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