“People have grown accustomed to the elimination of the poetry of the world, to the mechanization of life, to the expulsion of beauty; but this does not make any less real the influence on human happiness of this destruction of the charm of the organic, truly human life. People have grown accustomed today to the din to which they are exposed on the street and at home by the many machines that they use; but this does not mean that our nerves escape unscathed from all this cacophony.”Dietrich von Hildebrand, Beauty in the Light of Redemption, 79-80.
When I was a child I did not understand why the grownups were always shushing me and my brothers. We were three very energetic boys. Teachers, too, always seemed to be shushing the class. Grumpy grownups in sitcoms were complaining about “teenagers and their loud music.”
I never liked loud music. But I did wonder why noise seemed to bother the old folks so much. Especially as they grow hard of hearing. They ask you to “Speak up” and “Quit mumbling” one moment–and ironically (if not hypocritically) yell at you to “Quiet down!” the next.
Now, I get it. It’s happening to me. I’m that exact person who is noise adverse, and yet needs people to speak up.
The above quote makes an interesting comment about the quality of the sounds around us. The roar of engines and heavy equipment is drowning out the songs of birds–and summer breezes being combed by the trees. Von Hildebrand warns that this industrial change is not neutral. The loss of aural beauty actually affects us. We may not really notice it until we’re on vacation–where the sound of the ocean and gull refuses to be drowned. Or, in the woods, away from the roads and lawns, the sound of silence finally brings a hushed quiet into our souls. I wrote here about the importance of investing in beauty. Perhaps we can also work to find the quiet places. And restore our twitchy souls.