It’s not a compliment when we label something as babel. Everything to do with disorder is Babel. In fact, the word refers to the confusion that we find in the book of Genesis (Gn 11:1-8).
Why the confusion?
Here we have people who organise themselves to work together around a common project. They say to one another: “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top reaching heaven; so that we may be become a great people and not to be scattered over the face of the earth!” (Gn 11:4).
Honestly, what’s the problem with that? Isn’t that what we are looking for today: to have people united around a common goal? But why then does God confuse them, reducing their project to “babel”? Perhaps, it’s important to go back to the foundation of this project.
No doubt, you can’t miss to admire the sense of togetherness that seems to reign here and the determination of the people to remain weaved together, but at what price?
Babel, tower of arrogance
Here, I allow myself to be inspired by one rabbinical interpretation of the story. The people say to themselves: hey look at what God has done! He makes his abode up there in heaven and he leaves us here down on earth. Let’s challenge him.
So they plan to build a tower that will reach heaven. On top of it they will place an idol, with a sword in his hand, which they will worship as their god. In so doing, not only do they want to provoke the jealous of God but it’s also a declaration of war against him.
That’s why God confuses them because although they show love amongst themselves but their love is not complete. They leave God out and they unite themselves to rebel against him. Consequently, their arrogance leaves their project into babel.
Possible babel in my life
The story makes me think of the personal projects that I cherish. How much do they distance me from others and from God? And when I team up with others, what am I seeking: to do good or to strengthen my rebellion against someone?
I think of the dreams of my life: how are they affecting my marriage, my family, my work? Perhaps, it’s high time I gave a second look at what I do, otherwise, I may be just building in my life babel -a tower of arrogance.