THE CONSTITUTIONS of democratically governed nations around the world establish basic human rights. Among them are freedom of speech, the right of free assembly, and freedom of religion. Although it may not be enshrined in any founding documents, your right to quiet might be the most fundamental of all human rights—especially when the object of listening is to hear a divine message that heals.

Today, people's homes, workplaces, classrooms, and the "commons," or public spaces that we share, are increasingly noise-filled. Some see those noises as necessary nuisances in a wired and wireless, mobile and motorized culture. Advocates for a quieter environment, however, cite possible health risks of excessive noise. But if the ultimate medicine is mental and spiritual—and we believe that it is—then a noisier world is something much worse than a nuisance or even an environmental health risk. Ultimately, noise is noxious to the peace and stillness that are needed for healthful, creative, soul-enriching listening.

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May 30, 2005

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