Like the city that nursed my greed and my pride I stretch my arms into the
I cry Babel, Babel, look at me now, the walls of my town they come
I’ve was recently doing some research on the story of Babel. It’s a classic Old Testament story illustrating the human pattern of self-sufficiency, innovation, and desire to make our way to the divine The tower itself, not uncommon in ancient cities, was the peoples’ self-made gateway to the gods; their path to fulfillment. But like so many empires beyond Babel, the glory years came to a scattering end.
In many ways the ancient city of Babel - “Babylon” in the rest of the Bible - represents humanity’s attempts to control, govern, and unite. History shows how quickly such attempts turn into coercion and violence. Strength gets exposed as weakness and disunity. Walls, literally in many cases, do indeed come crumbling down. And this primordial example in the human history of Genesis reveals a pattern we know all too well - human weakness gets exposed.
Know my weakness, know my voice.
I believe in grace and choice.
I know that perhaps my heart is farce but I know that I'll be born without
In a culture driven by particular modes of self-sufficiency and success, we determine ourselves to fit in. Contrary to the lyric above, we have a mask for every situation: expressed confidence in the workplace; feigned compassion in relationships; forced happiness in everyday life. But it goes beyond us as individuals. Nationalistic confidence and social naivete have many countries operating well beyond their means globally, be it in economics, war and conflict, or social development. Masks are worn by all. The world excels in perpetuating Babel.
Did the original Babylonians realize what they were doing? Do we realize what we are doing? Do we know our “weakness” and the “farce” we pour our hearts into? Do we realize that unity doesn’t reside within Babel’s walls or the cultural towers we construct?The pattern of Babel calls us to unmask; to realize the illusion of perpetuating Babel.