Loving their own noise. Tonight’s presidential debate seemed like a lot of noise to me. I listened to perhaps thirty-five minutes and then I turned it off. Debates usually lack substance and this one seemed more devoid than others. It was like Senator Obama was debating a five year old. Same rhetoric of the last thirty years. Drill-drill-drill is how we solve global warming. Bomb-bomb-bomb is how we solve global terrorism. Deregulate-deregulate-deregulate is how we provide health care. It’s just noise. It’s meaningless. Wall Street dropped another five hundred points today and that’s just illusion. Only silence is real. Only stillness is real. The rest is just noise.
Those who love their own noise are impatient of everything else. They constantly defile the silence of the forests and the mountains and the sea. They bore through silent nature in every direction with their machines, for fear that the calm world might accuse them of their own emptiness. The urgency of their swift movement seems to ignore the tranquility of nature by pretending to have a purpose. The loud plane seems for a moment to deny the reality of the clouds and of the sky, by its direction, its noise, and its pretended strength. The silence of the sky remains when the plane has gone. The tranquility of the clouds will remain when the plane has fallen apart. It is the silence of the world that is real. Our noise, our business, our purposes, and all our fatuous statements about our purposes, our business, and our noise: these are the illusion.
–Thomas Merton, Seeds (Shambhala, 2002), 65