The Radical Meaning of Silence

In a Noisy World, Wordless Glances and Subtle Gestures Have Always Been Powerful Statements

Everyone claims to want silence right now. Uber is trialing the use of a mute button so you can ride in peace. A British newspaper columnist has finally found a way to forget all her problems—floating in the sea, both ears underwater, the world’s noise blocked out. Even Pope Francis has been at it: In April of this year, he invited opposing South Sudanese leaders to a spiritual retreat at the Vatican and, rather than facilitating verbal negotiation, asked them to meditate on the country’s national anthem.

But once we find …