The Quiet Zone

Do you have a quiet place? You know, a place you can go for a few moments of peace and silence when the world gets a too noisy?

Well apparently the FCC does. It’s called the National Radio Quiet Zone – 13,000 square miles in the corner of West Virginia where all unauthorized radio signals are banned. CBS recently did a story on it.

Created in 1958(!), this quiet zone was set up to protect the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, which searches for signals from outer space. Any device that transmits a wireless signal is banned. No cell phones. No Wi-Fi. No Bluetooth. You can even find a working payphone in the quiet zone.

They’re so serious about it that they even have a “radio cop” that patrols for rogue signals. When they find one, they “politely” ask the person to stop transmitting. They have no real power to stop the outlaws, but they try their best to protect the observatory.

This got me thinking about the margins we’ve been talking about. It’s not as if the FCC is taking a stand against wireless devices and crusading against the harm they are inflicting in our lives. They simply have something they have deemed too important to interfere with. So they created a margin – a quiet space – to deal with it.

I’ve read stories of families who have created their own quiet zones. One family determined that their dinner time as a family was so important that they all agreed there would be no cell phones at the table. They created a margin so they could protect their daily time to look one another in the eye and talk.

Another family has labled their bedrooms “gadget free zones”. They wanted the rooms where they slept to be places they could retreat and rest – even from all their devices. So they made a pact as a family to have these quiet zones in their house. That’s some serious margin.

I love hearing these stories, even when we don’t adopt the same rules for our family. Finding sacred margins in our lives is not about irradicating the “evil” technology from our lives or running away from modern progress.

It’s about finding what’s really important in our lives and fighting hard to protect it.

It’s about seeing the effects of our culture and the world around us and making good decisions to pursue what is right, good, true and noble.

I don’t always need to be without my technologies, but there are times when we all need a break. We all need to find a quiet zone every now and then.

What about you? Do you have any “quiet zones” in your life? Have you found a place or time that needs to be protected from distraction and noise?

2 thoughts on “The Quiet Zone

  1. I really like the idea of no phones at the table and no gadgets in the bedrooms. Marisa and I just bought a new kitchen table and part of my desire is that it becomes a more central part of our lives. Dinner at the table with the whole family is such a great memory that I have from my childhood, I really want to provide that same thing for my kids.

    I think what is tough is moving from this planned idea of “this is what we need to do” to a place in which it is a true desire. The reality is that sometimes (as disgusting as it feels to type this) I feel like I am making a sacrifice to hang out with my family when I could be watching the Mavericks. I don’t know what has happened that makes it so easy to get our priorities so skewed, but I do know that it will never end unless a conscious effort is made to do something different.

    “(Margin) is about finding what’s really important in our lives and fighting hard to protect it.”

    great statement.

  2. I think this is one of the most idiotic things I have read. leave it to the federal government to order people what to do.

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