Peace on earth and goodwill to all…a phrase heard more often this time of year. I hope wish and pray for it, don’t you?

And, I’d like to add … please, some quiet too. No question we live in a noisy world; too noisy actually. The sounds that surround us have not been in the least modulated in any way to suit the spiritual aspects of the season; in fact everything seems to have gained in volume, regardless of whether or not we want to hear it. Christmas carols and other loud music is constantly overriding our voices and interfering with normal conversation in public places. In restaurants the music isn’t background, its foreground and intrusive; it only causes diners to raise their voices in attempts to be heard, adding to the din which destroys the ambience the establishment tried to create with decor. Stores, along with the occasional shrieking child, have popular vocalists screaming at us through the PA system … personally, I can’t say its music to my ears. The shrill voices invading my ears and disrupting my thought process are definitely not dulcet tones to sooth we weary shoppers. It causes me and all the others I’ve polled to hurry and get out of the store: so much for research into what makes shoppers want to stay and shop. I feel sorry for the staff that has to listen to that noise all the time. I’ve asked them how they cope with it; they sigh and shrug, “It’s a corporate decision. We have no control over it.”

Audiences applaud performers on talent shows who can raise their voices to a pitch that could shatter beer mugs: The louder the better for them it seems.They scream whoop and holler their approval; raucous behavior in theaters and other places of entertainment is encouraged: Good thing it wouldn’t be tolerated in other in public places.

Loud music (sound tracks) overrides the dialog in movies, so lip-reading or closed captions are necessary to follow the story. Commercials threaten our hearing abilities with their loudness (the volume is increased automatically) and the accompanying music drowns out the sales pitch. News reporters shout into their microphones as if they don’t expect them to work, and we are threatened with deafness by goodness knows what else in today’s world.

So, what’s it all about? Is it that we have forgotten that loud noise is a form of pollution, stress inducing and a health hazard. It’s already well proven that it causes deafness. Is it possible the hearing of the general public is so far gone already as to need everything louder? Do you need to have blaring music coming at you all the time, and everywhere you turn? I don’t.

I think if enough people voiced their complaints to the right sources, things would get toned down quite a bit. It’s like so many other things in our lives, if we do nothing, which implies we are all right with it, or willing to put up with it, nothing changes. I suggest you do what I have done so many times; talk to store and restaurant managers, let them know you would rather not have the incessant extraneous noise; ask them to please turn it down or shut it off. Also remind them not everyone likes the kind of music they are playing. Something soft and easy on the ears, and kind of neutral might be acceptable. If they tell you it’s a corporate policy (the excuses I’ve heard), tell them to report your dissatisfaction to corporate bosses. Better yet, you write to them, tell them they will lose your patronage if they continue to ruin your experience in their places of business.

Inner peace isn’t just about how we live within ourselves and our lives, or our belief systems; it’s also largely dependent on the environment outside of ourselves. Ask anyone living in a war zone. It also requires some quietness, a relief from the din.

Peace might be harder to achieve with the stresses of every day life, what with all the demands on your time and attention. However, you can find it in your own personal inner space when you know how to settle back, relax and go within and find a sanctuary of calm and comfort: a respite from the noise in your life. Turn off the TV, have soft tranquil music playing, or no sound but that of your own breathing. I strongly recommend you take time to do that periodically during your days. It can be a sanity and life saver. And it’s time for everyone to realize quiet isn’t something we ought to have to fight for. We ought not to have to escape from where we live, shop and eat to find it. However, fight we must for what we need for our well-being. In this case, if you are like me and many others who appreciate peace and quiet, I suggest you be loud and persistent enough to be heard and listened to by those who can do something about it. It won’t take an act of congress or any kind of government legislation. Actually there are already noise abatement laws in effect in almost every state, county and town. As with everything else in a free society, it will take enough people voicing their disapproval to make a change. So if you want to be free of annoying and disrupting noise, speak up!

I wish you genuine peace and quiet, in your inner and outer world, and a cheer filled holiday with everything you planned to make it special coming to fruition.

TTFN and all the best, always, from Elaine Kissel