Conspicuous Parallels

Have you noticed that in recent years a rapidly growing number of people use ever larger amounts of potent perfumes and other strongly smelling stuff? It is sometimes so intense that I have to hold my breath until I gain enough distance to gasp for better air. By conventional logic, it seems, too many people believe that the more perfume applied, the better and more desirable the smell.

Why would anybody want to smell at all? Isn't it enough to just be clean without a smell? My hunch is that too many people are dissatisfied with being as they naturally are. They may feel that what nature gave them is not good enough and needs to be improved or at least masked. In general, there appears to be a growing attitude of anything natural not being any good. This attitude is rather successfully promoted by modern, mind-manipulative advertising, which lots of people fall prey to.

Such partially inborn, partially indoctrinated aversion to natural things and conditions is not merely apparent in the over-use of artificially scented products. It equally manifests itself in many other aspects of life, very notably in the misuse of sounds. Especially, audio entertainment has become a plague and, indeed, a drug. Even remote places are no longer safe havens since the availability and affordability of noisy gadgets. During my travelling years I have become acutely aware of that.

My favourite occupation was to visit solitary places, and observe human behaviour. What I had realized early on was confirmed time and again by subsequent experiences. While animals are subject to nature's control mechanisms, humans managed greatly to eschew them. Yet, we humans have not adequately, let alone completely, substituted nature's own control mechanisms with equally effective self-control, without which we are left more or less out of control.

Over time we succeeded at developing skills, tools and machines with the use of which we can and do have a tremendous impact on our environment and ourselves. In spite of all that technological progress, we still remain stuck with our innate, instinctual urges and desires. Such traits, indispensable for survival under nature's control, have detrimental, cancerous effects when uncontrolled or only under some limited human control.

What we see, smell, hear etc., is increasingly the result of largely unrestrained behaviour of the dominant, egocentric and anthropocentric species Homo Sapiens. The subtle sights, scents and sounds of nature are ever more altered, obstructed, masked and drowned out. The amplifiers are made ever more powerful, and the sound-controllers ever more ambitious to outdo the others. If one dares to oppose this relentless trend, one is likely to meet with obstinacy, be ridiculed or even labelled a misanthropist.

To stem the tide and reverse that adverse trend, we'll have to achieve a change in attitude. We have to pay much more attention to the psychological aspect of the problem. One effective means to pursue this goal is rigorous education of children and the general public. We already have some educational material available. Now we need more motivated, determined people to help us expand it and take it to schools and the media, to teach pupils and convey our message to the public.

Can we count on your help?

-Hans Schmid

Concert Organizers Held Liable for Hearing Damage

Visitors to a pop concert are entitled to payment for pain and suffering if they come away with hearing damage after a performance, according to the court of appeal in Koblenz, Germany. Everybody may rely on the organizers setting the volume of the music to such levels that it causes no damage to health, the judges ruled. The court awarded a woman money for pain and suffering in the amount of DM 9,000. She attended a pop concert in Trier where she sat near huge speakers posted at the right and left of the stage. After the event, a medical doctor diagnosed her with "severe, noise-traumatic inner ear damage with tinnitus in both sides." This was sufficient for the Koblenz judges to find the organizers guilty of a violation of their traffic securing obligation. The fact that the plaintiff herself had chosen her place was considered irrelevant.

Right to Quiet Society Newsletter, Spring 2002

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