I remember growing up in Indianapolis, Indiana for all my life, but over the last year or so I feel like I’ve slowly been moving to Babel. You see, for my whole life I had people who I disagreed with, but we could still communicate. Now it feels like there’s two different languages-Republican and Democrat. It reminds me of the biblical story of Babel in Genesis. For those of you who aren’t Christian, or just need a refresher, it goes like this:
Genesis 11:1-9New International Version (NIV)
11 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward,[a] they found a plain in Shinar[b] and settled there.
3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel[c]—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
Why does this story come to mind? More importantly, why do I feel the need to talk about it?
Well, the idea of a group of people building something that can stand to the Heavens is really familiar in the United States. Just look at New York, Chicago, Seattle, and so on. We have built a nation around a tower to Heaven, but our tower is our ideology- the American Dream. Our tower is the freedom and equality demanded in the Declaration of Independence and enshrined in the Constitution.
Building the tower is not the problem here. God doesn’t confuse their language to make them stop. He sees that they are doing something incredible so he tests them. The point it appears to me God tries to make is really, “How bad do you want it?” The test is to see if they can overcome this barrier because it is easy to work with people who speak your language. Finding a way to succeed in the face of this would be difficult.
I think we are in a time when our languages are being confused. I worry that we are on the course of building a tower to Heaven, but are ready to stop and turn around- or worse, tear it down.
It seems impossible to have a conversation about the path our society and nation should take, not because we don’t have common ground, but because we are speaking different tongues. We have places of agreement; however, due to the divide in our language, we cannot express ideas in the same terms. As long as that is the case we will never find agreement or peace, but will shout louder and grow angrier.
What is Our Tower?
Our tower is this nation. It is the freedom, liberty, opportunity, equality, justice, and hope that we fought for in 1776. It is the principles enshrined in our Constitution. It is the ability for anyone to be anything they wish. It is the institutions of family, community, and church that pick us up when we’re down and lift us to unbelievable heights when we have faith in them. It is “One Nation, Under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All.”
So when we think we want to tear this down or walk away from our tower, remember what it has taken to build. Think about the people who have given their lives for this nation. Think about the men who died to free the slaves and those who risked their lives for Civil rights. Remember the women who marched for the right to vote. They didn’t tear down the tower to build their own, rather they fought to add their brick to the tower.
But what can we do to fix this?
First things first: LISTEN! Hear what people have to say. Listen to understand, not to reply. We also need to define common terms and facts of the case if we are going to argue. Unless we can agree on the most basic facts, we cannot have productive conversations. The last thing, but probably most important, is to be civil. Agree to disagree. Remember that passionate arguments and political disagreements should not end relationships. We should look at each other beyond those things for the person, the child of God, that each one of us is.
If would like to join me in the Conversation of Our Genereation, you can find me on YouTube Conversation of Our Generation YouTube Channel.
I am just trying to join the Conversation of Our Generation. Let’s get the dialogue going!