Why Do We Consume Noise and Fear the Silence in Life?

by Mark Votava


Being raised in a home with a TV which was always on throughout the day, many siblings to talk to and the radio constantly on, I learned to become accustomed to noise.  I didn’t know what life would be like without so much noise.  I was afraid of the silence of my own life.

It wasn’t until I moved out of my parent’s house as I got older that I explored a life based more on silence.  I chose to not have a TV in my apartment, my siblings were not around on a daily basis and I didn’t listen to the radio as often.  I also stopped going to a lot of movies and sporting events which had been a big part of my life.

This was an experiment for me to learn how to embrace the silence of life in which I learned to find God in the ordinary moments of everyday life.  It wasn’t flashy or hyped up, but it was authentic to me.  I even had a hard time finding this silence in the traditional church meetings I would attend sometimes.  It seemed that so much of my life was based on noise that I didn’t know who I was apart from this noise that filled each day.

  • Identities based on noise

We have a fear in facing ourselves.  A lot of us have no idea of who we are.  We construct our identities from the noise around us.  Our identities are based almost entirely on noise.  Everything that is loud is attractive to our way of life as Americans.

  • Becoming extreme consumers of noise

We say, “What good is silence in the midst of all the noise?”  The noise is fun, exciting, controlled and a product of progress.”  Modernity delights in all the noise of life that we have consumed.  We have been extreme consumers of noise.

  • The noise never stops

The noise will never stop.  We think we will not exist anymore if there is an end to all the noise.  Morton Kelsey says in his book The Other Side Of Silence, “We do not want to deal with everything we find in ourselves…”

  • Keeping us from facing ourselves

The noise keeps us from facing ourselves.  It keeps us blinded to our inner worlds.  The noise is violent within us.  The noise protects itself to make sure of its continual existence.

  • Silence is stronger than noise

It destroys everything that gets in its way.  But noise cannot stand up to silence.  Silence is stronger than noise.  Silence is the destroyer of all noise within and around us in the parish.

  • Having the courage to face ourselves in silence and solitude

Our silence and solitude is the fabric of the mystical imagination.  Constantly consuming noise is not a part of the mystical imagination.  We need to have the courage to face ourselves in silence and solitude as the body of Christ in the place we inhabit together.

Why do we have a hard time facing ourselves in silence and solitude?