I am not an advocate of the “broken-windows” approach. You know, the theory/policy most famously implemented by New York City, that you can solve major crime by zeroing in on the small things, like broken windows.
I’m not being particularly radical in dissing it, the practice has been debunked by many before me.
On the way from idea to implementation it picked up a lot of race and class bias, sort of like Playdough picking up lint and food crumbs from messy hands. By the time it emerged as a (rather brutal) means of punishing communities, it had lost its connection to the initial concept.
What’s more, it didn’t work. The “proof” of its wild success evaporates when placed in a larger context. Yes, New York City saw results, but similar results were seen in other cities all across the nation at the same time.
So as I say, I’m not an advocate.
However, I also really like the initial idea a lot. I am drawn to the notion that the big, huge, seemingly unsolvable issues of the world can be solved if we deal with the small piece of it before us. Thinking globally and acting locally, tending your own garden plot, cleaning your own mess – whatever phrase you want, I think there is truth in there.
It is with this in mind then that I make a plea, and issue a challenge.
As we collectively stare into the face of growing incivility and division; the screaming, the baiting, the alarming outpouring of hate, I challenge all of us to bring back our own personal civility – and I plead for it to begin with everyone knocking off the non-stop talking at concerts.
Yeah, I know I am dangerously close to “you kids get off my lawn” territory here, but seriously. The level of chatter and noise has gotten out of hand.
I’m not talking about good ol’ fashioned concert noise. Whooping and cheering and singing along, the drunk guy hollering in my ear and the tipsy woman repeatedly demanding her favorite songs; that’s all good stuff. That’s audience participation. That’s part of the live experience.
I’m talking about the ridiculous, full-decibel conversations about everyday life at work and dating and all being shouted out around the hall so that the music is both undercut and overlaid with annoying audio clutter.
Have we collectively forgotten our manners? Have our attempts at worldly nonchalance jumped the rails into flat-out rude?
At one recent show, the bold – and incredibly humorous – stage manager of The Strand in Rockland actually took the stage between acts to tell the balcony to pipe down, adding, “Don’t make me come up there.”
The entire downstairs erupted in cheers and applause. I am clearly not alone in this objection.
Ultimately, the burden of good behavior cannot fall on venue management. It’s not fair. We must, as always, be the change ourselves. So I issue my plea. Keep going to concerts. Go to lots and lots of concerts. Go see performers that you love, and others you’ve never heard of. Go to concerts of music you’re not sure is your thing, just to get a feel. Support live music and community gathering and yes, yes, by all means bring your friends with you – and stop off at a fantastic local eatery or watering hole first.
Catch up with each other, find out all the details of what you’ve missed in the others’ lives. Laugh, connect, swap stories – and then come enjoy the live music in the presence of your friends, where we can all enjoy the music, too. Perhaps through mindful practice when we go out, we can restore civility on the larger stage.
Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.