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September 21, 2023

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Society’s insistence on loud sounds breeds ADHD

Several weeks ago, my wife and I participated in a walk for kids with Congenital Heart Disease.

We attended because our grandson, Eli, was born in February with truncus arteriosus, a CHD condition involving defects in the heart vessels as well as holes in the cardiac wall.

The event took place in Eden Park in downtown Cincinnati on a somewhat cold, damp and windy Saturday morning. Several hundred parents, children, infants and supporters were milling around various tents situated near a lovely pond. The organizers of the event were registering the participants and selling raffle tickets. Hot coffee was available.

Overlooking this scene was an announcer in a gazebo with a PA system, who periodically reminded newcomers to register, and conducted pre-event presentations. My daughter-in-law, Eli’s mom, gave a moving talk.

However, when no announcements or presentations were being made, the disc-jockey played music. Loud music. And this particular part was annoying and detracted from the festivities.

Picture the scene: little infants, many of whom are cardiac patients, being fed while having to listen to pounding music. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that infants prefer being fed when the environment is quiet, warm and safe. To try and take nourishment in an open park with damp, cool winds blowing and being continually assaulted by wave upon wave of noise is hardly ideal.

Don’t misunderstand. It’s not a particular type of music that was obnoxious. Bach or the Beatles, rap or Rachmaninoff being pumped into the crowd at that volume would have proven equally distressing. It was unpleasant, ubiquitous and unnecessary.

Perhaps the larger question is why our society must be assaulted with sounds whose volume rivals a jackhammer four feet away? Certainly there’s a time for music, but there’s also a time for quiet, a time for reflection, and a time for peace.

The philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote, “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” Perhaps a convincing case could be made that our modern society is fast becoming a petri dish for ADHD when it is being bombarded with noise that supposedly masquerades as music and constantly being interrupted by cell phones, pages and text messages.

There’s a place for music, hilarity, fun and good times. But admitting that there’s a place for these things implies in turn that there are circumstances and environments where these things are out of place. We need to insist on balance and appropriateness in our lives.

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