What Are You Paying Attention To?

"Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you you you are." - Jose Ortega y Gasset Do you ever get discouraged by man's inhumanity to man?

It can be discouraging to watch the news and witness yet another tragedy, scandal or man-made disaster.

Yet complaining about it or being outraged by it hurts rather than helps ... unless we actively try to improve it.

Unfortunately, we can't always change or improve what's happening on the world stage. We feel powerless to make things better.

The good news is, there is a way to make things better. Paying attention to what's right in the world can improve the quality of life for us and everyone around us.

The challenge is, many of us have become so busy, stressed, angry or outraged, we no longer even notice man's HUMANITY to man.

This point was brilliantly made in an article by Gene Weingarten in the Washington Post years ago.  I remember reading this on a Sunday morning years ago when I lived in Reston, VA. I was so inspired by his thought-provoking essage, I set the magazine down and said out loud, "Just give the man the Pulitzer."

Weingarten wondered, “What would happen if you took a renowned violinist and positioned him inside a D.C Metro Stop during morning rush hour?

What if you asked him to play six compositions, each 'masterpieces that have endured for centuries,' and asked him to play these symphonies on a rare Stradivarius?

Would any of the hundreds of people streaming by take a moment to pay attention to a free concert by “one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made?”

In the 45 minutes Joshua Bell played, (yes, the Joshua Bell who packs them in at concert halls around the globe), only seven (!) people paid any attention to his performance. The other 1070 people all rushed by, seemingly oblivious to the miracle in their midst.

Weingarten’s point?

There were several. One of which was to quote W.H. Davies who said, “‘What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stop and stare.’

At what cost are we so uptight and driven, that we have lost the ability to see the beauty around us?”

Another intriguing insight from Weingarten, “There was no demographic pattern to distinguish the few people who stopped to watch Bell from the majority who hurried past.  

But every time a child walked past, s/he tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.”

Hmmm.  Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Kudos to Gene Weingarten for his visionary social experiment Pearls Before Breakfast.

Please take the time to read the article and ask yourself, “Would I have taken a moment to listen to Bell?  Why or why not?  Have I become inured to the beauty around me?"

Starting today, vow to focus on, and contribute to, what’s right with your world instead of what’s wrong.

Instead of dwelling on the news, which primarily reports man’s inhumanity to man, choose to give your attention to what’s uplifting, inspiring and enlightening.

Choose to notice and thank the people who are making a positive difference ... the parents, teachers, entrepreneurs, servers, community leaders who treat others with respect and are dedicated to living in integrity and adding value.

When you choose to honor and BE humanKIND - you expand it.

And when we expand humanKIND - we create a rising tide raising all humans.

Want another example of humanKIND?

Have you heard about Eric Whitacre? Have you ever had the chicken-skin experience of singing in a choir or hearing a concert of hundreds of voices lifted in song?

Well, Eric thought, "Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could gather people from around the world - online - and conduct a “virtual choir” with several thousand people from 58 countries … all singing the same song at the same time?"

Take a few moments to listen to the transcendent results of Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 2 "Water Night."  

Do it right now.  Really.  Don't "pass by" this offering of man's humanity to man.

I promise, for the moments you listen to this, you will be swept up in human harmony.

You will experience the joy that happens when people choose to come together in collaboration rather than conflict. 

You will be immersed in what's right with our world, right here, right now.

And by experiencing this example of human-KIND, you’ll see the world in a more positive and proactive light.

And every single time we do that, every time we pay attention to and contribute to the beauty in the world, we create a new narrative that elevates and celebrates what's right instead of what's wrong.