Silent night - you're kidding, right?

Isn’t everyone’s favorite Christmas carol “Silent Night”? When we sing it we always use that soft breathy voice that indicates we understand and enjoy the beauty of silence. A few seconds after the “Amen” we’re back to the reality of the noisy world we live in.

Look, no listen to all the noise we hear every day.

-    We get up in the morning and immediately turn on the TV or radio.

-    Even the shortest journey in our car is accompanied with the noise of a high-end automotive sound system.

-    Some of you wear a new kind of head jewelry called “Bluetooth Technology” or I-pods that pipe noise directly into your head.

-    Most stores play “background” music and some even broadcast extra-loud advertisements on strategically placed TVs throughout their stores.

-    Now farmers no longer have to plow in silence because their tractors come equipped with quality sound systems.

We may breathlessly sing, “Silent night”, but we live in the noisiest society in history. So I’m calling for a little silence, a little peace and quiet, an uninterrupted hour or two with absolutely no noise. But I’m not only calling for it, I’m seeking it, I’m trying to create it.

Yesterday the wife went to the Mall which meant the house was going to be empty for at least two hours. “Ahhh…some peace and quiet”, I thought as I made my way to my favorite recliner and settled down for an uninterrupted hour of silence. I kicked the footrest out so I could lie nearly prostrate in the plush comfort of the chair. It took a few minutes to get comfortable and settle in and soon my eyes closed as I enjoyed the superb sound of silence; it was marvelous.

Unfortunately, silence is not easy to find, what with several phones in every home, TVs in every room, children, co-workers, machinery, barking dogs, etc. Perhaps the reason it is so difficult to find a place of silence is because of the high value of a little peace and quiet. You see, valuable things are always scarce, and silence can be very valuable.

Here are four reasons that silence is valuable:

First of all, silence rests the mind. The constant noise of life tires the brain and weakens its ability to do the work it is designed to do. Silence renews and refreshes the brain for more productive, creative labor.

Second, silence improves conversation. We’ve all been around someone who just plain flat talks too much, who wears us out with their words. Someone once said, “He had occasional flashes of silence that made his conversation perfectly delightful.”  The best conversationalists are those who know how to listen.

Silence settles arguments. You can stop a raucous argument or quiet down an angry person with silence. “Silence” said Josh Billings, “is one of the hardest arguments to refute.”

And last, silence preserves integrity. One hundred years before the birth of Christ a writer penned, “I have often regretted my speech, never my silence.”* We have all said at one time or another, “I wish I would have just kept my big mouth shut.” Mark Twain said it best, “Tis better to be silent and thought a fool, than to speak up and remove all doubt.”

But if silence bothers you and you find it hard to endure, do not worry, the noise will return soon enough. My quiet silence was broken by the most annoying sound ever invented by man – the ringtone on my cellphone.

*Publilius Syrus

Comments to  ©Copyright 2012 Dr. Ronald Ross