Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Hatred of Silence

I went for my daily run this morning, choosing as usual to run through the state forest surrounding Stoney Pond—a useful strategy when running with a husky, as I do regardless of weather, including today’s cold drizzle.

I was not alone. Some kayakers also decided to visit the water, choosing to shout and howl at nothing, an annoying if not unusual addition to a generally peaceful exercise, the sound heard everywhere. After all, why not venture into nature if not to disturb it? Campers blare radios, college students leave broken bear bottles as a record of a raucous party—aside from the understandable (to a degree) screaming children.

Why do people oppose quiet? Car radios boom enough to deafen not only the occupants (dangerously), but also anyone in the vicinity. Isn’t life agitated enough to want a little peace? Apparently not.

I can think of meeting after meeting, with both business people and academics, featuring mostly people talking to hear themselves talk, ignoring that someone else has already raised that point. Why? Such a practice only keeps us at the meeting longer, without progress. Richard Russo, in his novel “Straight Man,” asks about the last time someone changed thinking after hearing a cogent argument. The answer is satirically clear. We think what we think, shouting too loud to hear other voices.

I’m reminded of the movie “Jarhead.” The two Marine snipers featured have an opportunity to take out a target when they are supplanted by an air strike. They beg to be allowed to shoot anyway, despite that their action would mean nothing overall. When the war (the first Gulf conflict) ends, they lament that they never got to fire their weapons. Winning wasn’t enough—they wanted to make their mark, even if pointlessly. Needless emotional noise.

Think also of the political accusations over the past few decades amounting to “They stole our issues!” This is distressing—public admissions that the issues were never the point, only the credit for them and the ensuing power. [For me, if you can take one of my issues and see it achieved—you go!] It’s just ego.

Shouting to hear ourselves shout. Not discourse, is it? Why do we so oppose peace?



Two Write Hands said...

I hear you--loud and clear! :)

LiteraryMinded said...

This is a wonderful post. Let's have some peace and quiet.

Mike French said...

I have spent the summer walking my new dog with my 3 kids in the park. A sea of green grass, ancient trees, blue skies and kids on mini motor bikes blazing across the oasis like flies buzzing in the peace of the night. Hmm. The tempaption to swat one.