by Julianne Petersen
Back in a day that was not “my day,” your “parent’s day,” or even your “great-great- grandmother’s day,” man was screaming. (Now, man has screamed in all these days: in ours, in our parents’, and in our great-great-grandmothers.’) But back in this day, man was screaming to communicate. The record of man’s shout was set at 100 meters and history beamed at its achievement. Quite a bit later, it was your “great-...-grandmother’s day,” and we were celebrating the Printing Press. A time after that, the ponies began expressing themselves. Finally, it’s “my day”—“our day,” if you will.
For the first time in history, our communication—our virtual “shout”!—can breach multitudes of miles and language barriers in mere seconds. Our day has portable computers, iPhones, planes, subways, cars—seemingly magical inventions only improving with time. The unthinkable barriers of space and time are essentially gone! I mean, this is HUGE. World peace? Coming soon to a theater near you. Kumbaya? Your mom’s already singing it. In a click, we can translate the French comment to Spanish. In hours, we can step into a plane in Texas and step out of it in Canada. There’s no argument to be had—when it comes to connection, man’s communication is more unified than ever before.
Except, we’re screaming again.
And I lied. It’s the second time in history.
Once upon a time period, mankind had no barriers separating them. Distance didn’t matter, for we lived all jumbled together, relatively in one place. The language wasn’t an issue—we spoke the same one. This may sound like a fever dream, but it’s a story you’ve heard before. Think Genesis 11, Babel, the tower. In the beginning, man could communicate with ease. As the ESV account starts: “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech…”
With this common speech, people unified in their rebellion against God, deciding to build a tower that reached the heavens instead of following His commands. As a consequence, the Lord scattered them and confused their tongue, saying, “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.” By such logic, modern technology’s shared tongue has defeated those consequences. Congratulations!—not even the sky is man’s limit anymore.
Curiously, even with our shared tongue, people are just as scattered as ever. Even more curiously, this shared tongue appears to be causing the division. All you have to do is log into your social platform of choice—say Twitter—and share a political belief. Perhaps your aunt from that side of the family sees it and quickly responds with her take on the matter (after all, “you’re MUCH too young to know the FULL scope of the issue at hand”). Your kindergarten teacher, Sharon, can’t just let such a response slide and saddles into your defense (“the youth are our future”—didn’t you know). Thus, the Great Chain of Being the One with the Last Word begins. Multiply that by thousands of tweets and videos and posts and comments and articles uploaded each hour and you’ve got the madness of the Internet. At this rate, our best bet is to start practicing our 100-meter scream.
Yet, here we are, placed to sit in this online day and age. Why?
Perhaps there’s been a misunderstanding. So often, we view God scattering the Babylonians as just another element of the fall. Diversity, scattering, disunity—God’s punishment on man. But what if scattering was God’s blessing upon us? What if the problem with the Tower of Babel wasn’t that man was scattered but that man was unified? Put differently, imagine we all agreed. Imagine, a country full of just democrats or just republicans. All I will say further is thank God for two-party systems and FaceBook arguments! Disagreement is a blessing from God to hinder us from building these towers of unification in the particulars. Anything we entirely rely on that is not God is a tower man has built.
If you believe that God dies when individual rights die, perhaps you believe in man unified.
If you believe that God dies when equality is not enforced, perhaps you believe in man unified.
What towers are we trying to build? Why do we feel so let down by the people in office when they’ve been people all along? We are so focused on our division we seem to have forgotten the opportunity the internet presents. In the past, we've been a people of next door neighbors. Neighbors who went to bed at the same time, mowed the grass on Sundays, and possibly even attended the same church. Now, with our globalized communication and limitless access to information, our “neighbor” could live halfway around the world. Not to mention our literal next door neighbor who goes to that one church on the other side of town which has totally sold itself to that lie which is much worse than all the other lies. We are scattered and scared to death by it, when really it should be seen as the starting point of something beautiful.
Maybe the challenge is to love the other side on their side, stepping into the tension diversity brings instead of condemning it. To humble yourself and what you believe long enough to love someone who believes the opposite. There is hope in our intense longing for unification, to be “one body," for deep within ourselves we know that we are made to be reconciled as one body for eternity. But in this world’s limited understanding, we are mere elbows angry at knees for bending the wrong way, when they’ve just been bending the way they were made. In our pursuit of holding each other accountable, we have put one another on pedestals. We have forgotten that to live is not to build upon our humanity, but to be humbled by it. So, stop clinging to your comrades and thank God for those who are not! For to unify under God, man must be willing to scatter.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not claim to reflect the opinions or views of the Defendant or its staff members.