Potential vs Obsolescence





A friend posted a link to a NY Times article on what happens to pianos that are past their prime (pianos last about 80 years) or to those which people simply do not want or have room for. Some of these pianos are still playable, look and sound decent, yet they are shoved off trucks, smashing into piles of other discarded pianos.

It makes me sad to see the article’s video because these smashed pianos not only represent the potential of those who could learn to play them but also the potential and the realized skill of the people who made them. The piano used to be a highly prized and revered possession. It was a status symbol, if not of direct wealth, at least of having the ability to provide some symbol of culture in the home. It was where I learned self-discipline and the triumph of skill mastery. Piano building is now a lost artform, its products smashed and relegated to dumps.

Technology brings about a whole panoply of obsolescence. These discarded pianos are much like the people who are desperately searching for jobs in this terrible economy. Their skills are growing stale and obsolete because there are fewer jobs in which to use them. They are not needed right now. And going back to school for more training is not always an option. What does this comparison say about how we value people who are not given the chance to contribute in a meaningful way to society?

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