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
“Although God lives in the souls of men who are unconscious of Him, how can I say that I have found Him and found myself in Him if I never know Him or think of Him, never take any interest in Him or seek Him or desire His presence in my soul? What good does it do to say a few formal prayers to Him and then turn away and give all my mind and all my will to created things, desiring only ends that fall short of Him.”
Thomas Merton. ‘New Seeds of Contemplation’.
If I don’t know any of the players on a soccer team, am oblivious to any of the team’s achievements, and never watch any of their games, can I still call myself a supporter? Technically, yes, but doesn’t being a supporter of a team mean that one has to provide some kind of support? Surely one has to invest some part of his/her time or resources into following the club, otherwise the word ‘supporter’ simply becomes meaningless. I think an approximate analogy can be made regarding one’s relationship with God. If we don’t invest anything into our relationship with God, do we still maintain the right to call ourselves a believer in Him?
Tags: analogy, belief, believer, contemplation, faith, investment, Prayer, relationship, Religion, soccer, soul, supporter, team, Thomas Merton