Blessed are the peacemakers – Matthew 5:9 I have decided that my new pet peeve – other than the large spiders who wait for me in the trees that line the sidewalk when I walk Scout at night – is obnoxious canned music at gas stations. And, to make it worse, it’s never “Top-40″ but always the show-tunes genre, turned up too loud and interrupted by the added irritation of periodic, and even louder, commercial messages.
I’m not suggesting that pumping gas should be or ever has been a solitary, meditative moment, but there’s a huge difference between the “natural” sounds – engines starting, pumps running, people talking – and the intrusive noise of the anthem from Ms Saigon or the love theme from Cats or – however good it was in the movie – Barbara Streisand belting out The Way We Were.
I actually enjoy the sounds of real life. I don’t mind the noise of a busy street when sitting in a sidewalk cafe, or the cacophony of industrial machinery mixed with human voices on a factory floor, or the unique blend of commotion coming from a herd of middle school students stampeding from class to class.
And I honestly do like show tunes. Musicals are wonderful, and we never missed a concert when Naomi sang with the Ambassadors at Bloomingdale High School. But it’s about context. Noise that’s intrusive is noise that we know – instinctively – does not fit.
BUT, and I believe this is alarmingly true, we have developed this tendency in our culture to deliberately introduce distractions whenever and wherever there’s the danger we might actually pause to think.
Some folk have the television running in their home every waking hour – even during mealtimes.
I’ve been to social gatherings where the host not only left the TV running but turned the volume up when conversation made it hard to hear the show!
How about those parties where some of the guests watch “the game” while others try to have meaningful conversations!
Do you listen to the radio every time you drive anywhere, even a mile or less?
Does the grocery store assault you with prerecorded messages that change from aisle to aisle?
Is there even a TV in your bedroom?
Does the allure of your smart-phone pull you away from setting any carefully calibrated tempo at the beginnings of your day…?
Feels good to air a pet peeve!
God forbid that anyone of us have a few quiet moments to meditate.
Personally, I’d like to initiate a “take back my peace and quiet” campaign. Guerilla tactics could begin with disabling the speakers at those gas stations… Hmmm, not a bad idea….