I was just taking a walk and passed a guy mowing his lawn, wearing earbuds connected to some sort of MP3 device. It looked very painful, and I’m sure the decibels will wreak hot havoc on his eardrums in the years to come. But it made me ask the question: why does someone need to have that kind of stimulation so desperately that they are willing to sacrifice their hearing into old age? Can’t a person go without some kind of media input for 20 minutes while they mow the lawn?
But it’s not just that. Most of us can’t drive 10 minutes to work without turning on the radio or putting in a CD. I’m no exception; I remember when I was in college, I couldn’t even take a 5 minute shower without turning on some music first. And don’t even get me started on being a bathroom reader (I blame my dad – it’s in the genes, I tell you!).
It’s not just music and books, either. Movies and television play their part too. Anything the world uses that can draw our thoughts in would fall into this category.
So what’s going on here? Why the constant need to escape any moment of silence that might threaten to encroach upon our coveted noise? Why can’t we just have peace and quiet for a while, and give ourselves time to think?
Actually, I think that’s exactly it. We don’t WANT to think.
I’m increasingly growing to think of media as a drug. Forget religion, entertainment is the opiate of the masses. To be sure, classical conditioning does play a part in this avoidance of silence – we Americans are conditioned from early on to require some form of media input regularly (show of hands, how many of the rest of you grew up on Sesame Street?). But I don’t think that accounts for all, or even most of it necessarily.
Rather, I’m looking around today and seeing that, for whatever reason, people in general are just not comfortable being alone with themselves. Why would this be? Generally it’s great fun being alone with someone you enjoy. The issue, then, is probably that we don’t even like ourselves.
And why should we? We are sinners, and our hearts convict us as such. If we are alone with ourselves, we might start to realize that all those things that condemn us as fallen and unrighteous are TRUE.
But that’s the thing, isn’t it? We need to know that it’s true, because until we are finally confronted with the harrowing reality of the disease, we will never be prepared to receive the cure. And make no mistake, there are those out there who are prepared to do everything in their power to keep this from happening.
I’m reminded of a comment C.S. Lewis’ demon Screwtape made to his protege, Wormwood:
We will make the whole universe a noise in the end. We have already made great strides in this direction as regards the Earth. The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end.
So what am I getting to, here? Only that maybe we should take more time away from the computer, television, radio, etc. Maybe we should spend more time meditating on who and what we are, and on Who and What our Savior has revealed Himself to be. Maybe we should take the eardrum-splitting headphones off while we’re mowing…
…and let the silence deafen us instead.