In an excerpt from Robert Reich's book The Future of Success, we spotted a trend: attention has become another commodity in the new economy. In a world of so much speed and tension, having someone pamper and lavish attention on you is a marketable good. Now in an article in The New Republic, Chloe Schama writes about how silence has become a luxury item in New York City and elsewhere. Many urban dwellers identify noise as their major complaint. In national surveys, a growing number of people complain about the high level of noise in restaurants.
We have already saluted Amtrak for the silent car and now it has become so popular that customers on other trains and planes want this option for all their travels. In addition, there is a growing demand for "peace and quiet" at resorts and hotels. Homeowners look for noise reduction features in their household appliances. It comes as no surprise that soundproofing businesses are booming. Why has silence become such a hot item? Schama sees it as an alternative to the "noisy" congestion of our cities, workplaces, arenas, and movie theatres. Spiritual activists of all stripes should be seizing the moment by offering e-courses and seminars on the practice of silence, along with more silent retreats to build on people's yearning for some peace and quiet. Of course, mindfulness devotees have already mined much of this ground but there are still plenty of resources and approaches to this spiritual practice left to experience and explore.