silence is a privilege

Arthur Versluis:

Meaning comes out of a context, and part of our contextualization, as human beings, requires silence. And it requires nature, the natural world, untamed mountains, valleys, the ocean.

I have been thinking recently about how silence is now a privilege and wondering when that became the case. I suppose the majority of the population becoming urban would be a good approximation (1850 for Britain, 2007 for the planet—that difference shows my question is more contemporary than I initially assumed).

When did the majority of the race wake up and listen for a moment or step outside their back door in the morning to be greeted by human made noise—of which traffic is by far the biggest offender.1. What kind of effect does that have on the brain chemistry and the subconscious faculties of a species?

Ivan Illich:

Silence, according to western and eastern tradition alike, is necessary for the emergence of persons.

We managed to make fire “a symbol of Heaven into a symbol of Hell“, the waters are gone, and now we’ve managed to fill the air too, displacing ourselves from our rightful context in all season and all weathers and at all times.

Is it overweening privileged to demand silence?
How much money will it cost? For how long will there be available sanctuaries?


If I were a doctor and were asked for my advice, I would reply: Create silence! The Word of God cannot be heard in the noisy world of today. And even if it were blazoned forth with all the panoply of noise so that it could be heard in the midst of all the other noise, then it would no longer be the Word of God. Therefore create Silence.


  1. If the technology-boosters could eliminate road noise, it would at least be something. *But think of the ACCIDENTS*. Bof.

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