My mind wanders to make the most curious connections during my daily exercise routine. The other day, while in the middle of stretching my gaze fell upon an ordinary electrical wall outlet…

The Old Testament legend of the Tower of Babel was penned more than 2,700 years ago. Before being reduced to writing it must have been passed down as an oral tradition by countless generations. As conventionally understood, the “Tower” myth explains the diversity of languages in the world, “Now the whole world had one language and one speech.” (Genesis 11:1) It also hints at God’s intention to keep humanity in its place, “Come let us go down there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” (Genesis 11:7). However, the most powerful and insightful part of the myth remains incredibly relevant today. Humanity, as one people, came together and decided to build a city and build “a tower whose top is in the Heavens”. God recognized the potential of humanity united, “…nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.” (Genesis 11:4-6)

The tribalism that has existed since the dawn of time remains unabated today. It is perhaps the only thing that stands in the way of universal prosperity, the defeat of hunger, the elimination of disease, and even space travel that extends humanities reach like a tower “whose top is in the Heavens”. Unfortunately, nations dedicate vast resources in a competition that focuses only upon the subjugation of other nations and the defense from such subjection. The common mentality is one that defines the world in terms of us vs. them, and not just on a nation level but in terms of race, religion, socioeconomic status, and political affiliation. We act contrary to our best interests as a species and contrary to the health of our shared planet. Even when our “tribe” sees that another “tribe” has developed a superior means of addressing a problem, there is resistance to the change simply because it is not “our way”. Some tribalism is benign: What side of the road folks drive upon; Inches or Centimeters; Dollars or Euros… Some tribalism is dysfunctional: Declarations of a “national language”, a “national religion”… And then there are the dangerous tribalisms: the arms race, homophobia, racism… Sadly, tolerance and acceptance are the solutions that defy implementation. They are what virtually all religions preach, but few actually practice.

Now about the electrical outlet that I spied during exercise: It dawned on me that as we prepare to travel abroad I needed to secure converters to “translate” my North America style plugs to those used in the United Kingdom and Europe. The mind does work in mysterious ways.

Peace Everyone. Pete

8 thoughts on “The 21st Century Tower of Babel

  1. I have read that they are different (the plugs), but don’t really understand how. Perhaps one day I will test the theory. In the meantime, I look forward to testing the plugs in Montana one day! Bon Voyage, you two. Safe travels!

  2. Patrick B. Starke says:

    One theory is that the common language was Cuneiform, used as the language of diplomacy and commerce throughout the ancient world. Once Babylon collapses, so did the common language and the world stepped backward into regionalism and diverse dialects. The parallels to the contemporary world(read English vs. Cuneiform), given the trend toward nationalism and isolationism are uncanny. Hope you are well on your trip. Go safely.

  3. Pauline Schloss says:

    I can’t comment on your “wondering” mind but I can wish you a productive, happy, safe, healthy trip. You will have much more to write about–waiting to read from you and Chris. Happy Birthday and a Blessed Easter on the “waters”.

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