Why do we fear solitude and silence?
We appear to be apprehensive about spending scarcely twenty minutes just sitting down, doing nothing, listening to nothing, thinking of nothing in particular, simply allowing ourselves to exist in the moment. Every technological advance, everything mass media and advertising throws at us is aimed at ensuring that we do not have to stop and contemplate, but instead move and do things quicker. A recent advertisement for a well-known mobile phone company recently summed up modern thinking very well when it half-jokingly claimed that impatience was a virtue. Such is the very real need for communication to be faster.
I would argue that we fear solitude because there is something at the very heart of ourselves that we fear. Shall we call it a soul? It is seemingly unknown. If we had the time and space to reflect then we may be forced to confront our own mortality, discover more about who we are and ask ourselves real, deeper questions, possibly disquieting questions. Everything modern society creates is therefore perfectly suited to combatting this fear and (thankfully) allows us neither the time nor the desire to have to find out.
Tags: advertising, faith, fear, mass media, mortality, questions, silence, society, solitude, soul, thinking
I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint Jeremiah 31v25.
I have been feeling emotionally and physically drained recently. A few weeks ago I completed a Masters in Education which took me over five years to do, with the last six months proving to be especially grueling.
Reason dictates that in order to restore strength I should now rest. My default position in any case is to watch movies whenever I can and put my feet up. The problem is, it only works up to a point and doesn’t bring back much ‘strength’.
Society is full of books and people who give us step by step plans designed to help us feel rested and strong, whereas the Christian way of life almost seems too easy, as the first thing that God often wants from us is to just spend time with Him, primarily through prayer. The simple act of doing this may be ‘refreshing’ for our souls.
Modern man: When I have finished my current piece of work and that long awaited side project, when this venture has finally been completed and I eventually get round to starting that job and seeing it through to the end, then I will find myself once again at the mercy of whatever life throws at me next.
To its great cost, society places little value on sanctuary. Silence is considered to be for the monks, meditation to be Eastern, and prayer an act of desperation. We are totally dependent on background noise. Something has to be happening, all of the time. Society’s ultimate tool, the internet, is great for information, but is an enemy of thought.
I am not yet going to propose a radical solution. For the time being I just wanted to reflect on this state of affairs and encourage us to consider the consequences that this has on our lives.