I got to hear a lovely classical music concert the other day. All Bach. Religious chamber music played in a church (St. Paul's in downtown Manhattan). The musicians performed with great skill and inspiration. But so did the audience. They listened thoughtfully with real appreciation.

The world we live in places so much importance on performance and on being center stage. And certainly those of us in the audience wouldn't have had the same experience if we'd sat there together in silence watching an empty space! It would have been nice in it's own zen way. But it wouldn't have been a concert. It would have been more like a group meditation. Doubtful it would have lasted as long or been as focused, though you never know. Maybe in Brooklyn.

On the other hand, without an audience, the musicians wouldn't have given a performance. It would have been a rehearsal I guess. A very good though unappreciated run-through of some most inspiring music. So the performers needed us as much as we needed them. Hail reciprocity! 

The word audience is or should be a verb as well as a noun. It means active participation. It's necessary and it needs to be guarded as well as valued. We can choose to be an audience to the good and glory around us. Or we can be an audience to the awful offal that is also found around. But we do have a choice. What we choose to watch, to pay attention to, affects us and the world around us. For as a friend of mine used to say if you take away the audience, the show closes.

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