Sitting down and shutting up is good for you sometimes

I was having a conversation with my wife recently about quiet. This conversation developed as we were discussing some collection of current, popular, so-called news-worthy stories of the day. I recalled, as we were talking, how I would slip off into the woods near our country ramshackle-house when I was a boy. Although we lived in the heart of Cross County, Arkansas, where rural was the only thing you could called it, there were still times when solitude was cherished by me. I grew up as the oldest of four siblings. The age differences between the three of them and me were: five years, eight years and twelve years. If you have siblings, you can probably imagine the conflicts that naturally arise within these blood groups. In retrospect, I think some of our conflict arose out of the “lack-of-so-much” environment in which we were reared. There was always a lack of the over-commercialized creature comforts we now see routinely advertised on television every fifteen minutes. Maybe the lack of things wasn’t the reason; maybe siblings are just naturally combative?

As I write this piece, my mind is still reeling from the noise I was just exposed to on Facebook. Noise, you might ask? Isn’t Facebook, for the most part, a virtual cornucopia of cutesy sayings, plagiarized placards and photos of who knows what and what nots? True, but amongst all of this, there’s a lot of noise. When you think about it, our whole world is replete with noise. This has been a particularly noisy year, with the presidential election topping things off like no other political show I’ve seen in my sixty-six years. However, even if you remove the presidential campaign and its aftermath from the equation, there’s always an ample amount of noise around anxious to capture our attention. The noise often tends to steal our attention away from the heart of the things that count. We’re, each of us, part and parcel of a whole. The whole consists of the three hundred million-plus individuals that comprise the citizenry of the Unites States of America. There is meditation and meaningful conversation hankering to caress our attention, but the noise acts as a greedy opponent, victoriously stealing our attention at every opportunity.

A couple of days ago, Steve Harvey, the fellow who seems to be in all places all the time, hosting TV and radio talk shows, met with Donald Trump. News reports indicate that Mr. Harvey was asked to meet with the President-elect about urban issues that plague our inner cities, more specifically housing. The sort of noise that bombarded social media about this meeting was deafening. The unbridled hatred for Mr. Trump-which I can understand- blinded so many from even considering that this meeting might have some positive outcomes. Did the authors of all this noise think about the reality that oftentimes one must meet with those in power, though you may not want to, to start the process of talking, negotiating, bargaining? Mr. Harvey made a statement on his syndicated radio talk show, after the meeting with Mr. Trump, that it would not have been wise for him to turn down an invitation such as this. This was an invitation to discuss an issue that’s dear to his heart; an issue that he knows about personally. Mr. Harvey is a product of the inner city and the poverty-stricken conditions which have so many young people trapped. Do we not collectively remember a time when civil rights leaders had to meet with folks who obviously didn’t have their best interest at heart, in order to talk about justice, dignity and equality? Noise can evidently be entertaining to many. Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets have made that clear, but do we just need entertainment? Don’t we need meaningful conversation, resulting in useful information; information that can be used to bring about needed change?

I’m a victim of the nosie, too. Maybe admitting it isn’t a bad thing. After all, admitting you have a problem is the first step to correction. Now, let me make that first step on a thousand-mile journey. I’m tired already. In the meantime, I’ll sit down and shut up a bit; that could help with some of the noise pollution.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

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