Roland Dürre
Sunday February 20th, 2011

Good News From Politics!

I am currently reading the Sunday FAZ. It is about #Guttenberg and #how people starve in Africa. The paper looks more and more attractive to me. This week, however, there is also an item of really good news – and I was truly delighted to read it:

The German Parliament passed some (see article)

Children’s Noise Amendment

legislation. It says that noise coming from child-care centres and the like, also schools and playgrounds, will be considered differently from other sources of noise. Now noisy children are no longer considered environmental pollution!

Especially surprising: before the final debate, even the senior citizen’s union of the CDU, who up to then had been the fiercest enemies of the new amendment, gave up their resistance against the new legislation!

It reminds me of an interview I read in the “Süddeutsche” of December, 29th, 2010. The environmental expert of the Bavarian Capital Munich, Joachim Lorenz, was asked about the particulate matter, silent asphalt and all the other traffic noise. He made it pretty clear that cars hold the top rank by far when it comes to who or what is responsible for most of the damage done to people (at least in Munich).

Yet some of the answers Joachim Lorenz gave sounded a little like he was giving up hope. Here is a citation:

“… we all consider automobile traffic a given, a matter of destiny. Besides, there is mostly a constant exposure to sonic waves, at least in the daytime…”

In other words: we consider the misery caused by individualized traffic quasi God-given. You take it for granted. Especially if the noise is quite constant, so that you easily get used to it.

It is different with children. The sound of happy children once a day during their lunch break heard next to a school building is considered a nuisance and violation of peace. I believe one reason for this opinion is the happiness expressed through said noise, which must be annoying to quite a few frustrated, elderly Germans.

The same is true for the value of property if it lies next to a child-care centre: it is considered detrimental in terms of location, because the noise you hear when children play might scare off some potential buyers.
What kind of society are we living in (which, incidentally, we ourselves created)?

In this respect, the new amendment is actually a small step in the right direction.

(Translated by EG)

Whenever I pass by a kindergarden on my bike in the summer, I am glad to see all the life and the noise coming from the children who play happily in the garden. On the other hand, whenever I try to relax on my deckchair on a sunny Saturday in the summer, I am not at all happy with the permanent noise of the lawn-mowers. It seems said lawn-mowers cannot be done without in certain German upper-class regions.
But that is how it has to be. After all, our villas need an “English” garden, just like we need cars. Children, on the other hand, are something we can easily do without. They might step on our well-kept lawn. That, however, is not what it was made for, just like the room inside the cities has not been made for people, but for cars.

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