Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Reflection: Tower of Babel

1 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech.” 8 So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused[a] the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
Genesis 11:1-9

Analysis: Why would God weaken his children? Separate them and cause wars? The answers to this question are numerous, but the purpose behind this story is that God confused them and broke them apart because of their intent.

The Tower of Babel is the story of the tendency in each of us to try to build a better world without God. This secular world is where man reigns without God and attempts to do something great outside of God. There is an insatiable desire in man for self-glorification, for a world built on pride. We too struggle daily with the desire to Glorify ourselves, building a world outside the plan of God. The story in Genisis tells of the division, rivalry, and misunderstanding to which this leads. What can man produce without God? Like the tower of Babel, dreams built on false hopes eventually Collapse.
- 'The Anawim Way' - Liturgical Meditations for the Baptism of the Lord.

If we look at this passage and see God as a contradiction as a jealous God, then we may view God's attempt as malicious. Perhaps God wants us to be confused, want's us to war against our brothers and sisters. But regardless of whether we view God as the divine within each of us, or an omnipotent being all knowing and wise, the message at its core can be seen right now. Many people believe that this story references Babylon, during the age of Babylon the lingua franca in the Near East around that time was Akkadian.

We don't need to travel back into the past to understand what went on. It has been said that we live in a world, a society that rewards greed, aggression and egotism. We view the "West" as a symbolism of this present Monopoly but we don't realize that this is a cycle that has happened repeatedly, the west is not evil anymore than any other civilization that is present today that functions on similar principals. At it's core we are in Societies which reward compeition in the name of being "better" with Greed. In the book the Tao of Abundance, Laurence G. Boldt said that we live in a world today where what gets left done or undone is determined on the basis of money. Money is not used as a tool for Good rather for Greed, we want more money so that we can live happily for ourselves and our select children. We do not think about our brothers and sisters, and so we struggle, and we see poverty on a global scale, and all of this is hurting the environment, which has led Scientists to predict that we will see dramatic weather changes, the ice caps are melting and this in turn will cause massive flooding similar to what is mentioned in the various scriptures and history books of the past. In some of these stories and beliefs only the most virtuous will survive. And who are the most virtuous? It is one belief that the virtuous are the people who will realize in time that we can't survive without each other, love is the way.

There are those of us who would use the Tower of Babel as an excuse for why we should avoid coming together, but there are others who realize that the root of evil is not about coming together so much as it is our foundation, the bridge we stand on. What scares us is the knowledge that "The Road to hell is paved with good intentions". America's foundation was based on good intent. Democracy too this was based on good intentions. The Republic it's system was based with good intentions. Even Hitler the man who destroyed millions of lives, had good intentions. He is one of the most well known examples of what happens when we separate ourselves into "Higher and Lower", a lot of the downfalls of our system is not that we are inherently "bad" but that the vast majority of us haven't yet figured it out, that we cannot think only of ourselves neither can we think for only our social class or group. We cannot put ourselves above or below people nor can we continue to justify it: The effects just don't add up to those thought processes. All those good intentions mean nothing when our values are out of whack and we don't understand the effects of our actions the result is chaos.

We have seen what happens when we walk down this path throughout history. It's not enough for us to keep doing the same thing, how many times will we continue this periodic cycle between Dark ages and Golden Ages before we realize that we can only move forward as one in a Society that rewards compassion, diversity, acceptance, oneness, and the very virtues so many of us value but struggle to apply. Some people feel they know the answer. So often we hear why it can't be done, but why not try? How much can it hurt to show compassion, to treat our neighbour with respect and love, to accept each other for our differences, uniting to be strong together? The answer to those questions vary, but ultimately what is done resides in whether or not you will think for "I" or think with "Us".

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