The Tower of Babel has added another chapter.
In the Islamic version of the Tower of Babel story, Pharaoh asks Haman to build him a stone tower so that he can ride up to heaven and confront the God of Moses.
In the last meeting of the United Nations, the stage was set, it was said that the world is in a very bad mood. That is an understatement in many cases. The world is undergoing it’s biggest transition so far, a technological, natural, and idealistic tug of war… or a head on collision? it depends on who you ask. That part right there, where it depends on who you ask, is what is at the crux of the matter, and our matters. It is the pinpoint that shows up on all of the maps in all of the offices and boardrooms from here to Taipei City. It is so important that it is written down and debated in courts of law, and in congressional chambers. We spend a great deal of our childhood in schools learning about them. Yet, it is also so malleable, and easy to change, that when those changes happen, we just don’t notice, or apply too much care to it. It is by definition the things that guide and drive us, direct us and protect us. Our biggest concerns and issues arise with, by definition…Definitions.
243 years after the Revolution, we are still defining what freedom means. Even though I don’t think we would know it, freedom, if it bit us on our collective backsides. That part is about who you ask too, and it is not something that we can blame on governments, or climate change, or religions even. This is something that we do, that we have done, that has accumulated into the antithesis of the various stories of the Tower of Babel. In looking for that something that has arisen and taken on some kind of force of its own; It is the communications, the meanings, and the definitions of life, in life, about life, that we find the issues here. We can all understand the words now, we just don’t always know what they mean.
The way we communicate has ebbed and flowed for thousands of years. It is the way we have meshed our way into and out of era’s and civilizations. The Pidgin languages from around the world tells us that people have been doing this all along. The contemporary challenges are often a daily occurrence, with the context of the information being obfuscated by the definitions being used to convey. In simpler terms, we know the words people use to say this or that, but we have lost a good amount of grasp on what is meant by those words. An oversimplified example is the word “rock,” How many variations of that could you use in a sentence? There are so many uses for the word “rock” in our societal linguistics, that when it is used, there is need to discern which “rock” definition others were using? These mental trappings become more accepted, they are part of our nature, and the task of communicating itself changes, and definitions become more and more subjective, and individual. Until they become something else entirely.
Going to the movies in the theaters was a big deal when I was a kid. We didn’t do it too often, but when we did we soaked it all up. Afterwards we would talk about it all week, and at school, it was so cool etc… The TV networks would have their movie critics, and they often panned the movies I liked, that my friends liked, the movies we thought were so cool. It was an early lesson on the opinions of others, and I didn’t have to agree with them, I liked it. Then I noticed something later on in life; That those movies, whether they were good or bad, was mostly decided by those two guys on the TV, or that writer in the papers. What about us? What about the ones who saw this differently, and wanted to see another one like it? By definition, it was a bad movie, and it didn’t matter what we thought in the big scheme of things.
In a way, it is a struggle to break free of our past, as it is one to hold onto pieces of it. The definitions, from teenage angst and emotions, to adult desires and manipulations, have matured into a societal hammer. Being used to try to dismantle the tides of change, or build something without materials. Change is a constant, but our past is an entire meal, and one that must be eaten as a whole, you may get to choose your vegetable, but the main course will always be the same. That main course is usually not a fun experience for those with weak stomachs, or a mental dust collector attached to their emotional vacuum cleaners. It is filled with all sorts of good and bad, and even those definitions rely upon those to whom you speak to about it. That past is what it is, yet, it is also what makes up our future. That big scheme of things wasn’t up to a few critics, or experts, to declare or give meaning to. It was up to us, it is up to us, this country business is always a work in progress. The framework, of both country and society are always a work in flux. History is more a guide to human nature than it is anything else.
The big scheme of things was just what was thought of when our forefathers were putting all of this together though. Whether it be the U.S., the U.K., Zimbabwe, or Italy, they were all thinking about the big scheme of things, what that definition meant in real life. When you make movies, I guess that it is acceptable to take the word of a few so called experts on whether you have a good product or not. It works that way for restaurants, and other industries too. It is a practice that, in our affluent society, we have taken to grand extremes, and mundane repetitions, and in the process applied directly, and indirectly to aspects of the whole, to truth itself, information, and to the laws that guide our systems of governing. That practice is completely inadvisable, yet spreading like wildfires through the unprotected backwoods of the noggins of many Americans. At the turnpike of the next era, we are poking at buttons in the nuclear plant, hoping to get our turn signal to give us some kind of sign.
51% of the young voters believe that there is a possibility that human kind could be wiped out in the next ten to fifteen years. That future, the next era, by definition, is now painted with the collective thoughts, not of joy, or hope, but impending doom. Growing up with the Cold War raging on, I know what impending doom means. But, even I don’t know how I would of felt if that doom included real bombs being dropped, while worrying which one is going to be the one to break the proverbial camel’s back? Yet, I was also one of those young voters at one time, and if I recall, they said the same things in 1978. That it would be too hot in 2004 to go outside. That date was off by a few years, but not entirely untrue. The definitions were being twisted a bit, turned to produce the desired responses, and either promoted, or demoted, according to beliefs and definitions that didn’t always fit, and shouldn’t have been applied. In doing so, in taking control of the definitions, the narrative, the meanings of what those climate emergencies were and were not, the future was directed all those years ago. For good or bad? That too depends on who you ask.
We are engulfed in a clash of extremes, one that will continue to strain the edges of not only the country, and society, but the world as well. The need to examine these parts of our collective herding, our mannerisms, and our shortcomings, is more imperative than many will believe or consider. It is found in every aspect of communications, and is indeed at the point of being a Ziggurat, that is decomposing in an implosion of definitions. The definitions we are applying, and injuring ourselves in the process, have and are having the ability to undo us… you, me… The whole big scheme of things. If we are to break free from repeating the mistakes from our past, then the present must be looked at in all of its smallest corners as well.
It occurs through culture, art, and expression. It occurs in belief systems, and innovation, technical developments, and governmental influences. It happens in media of all forms, in marketing and consumerism, and in religious and political manipulations. The beliefs of people were considered in the beginning of this country building and society running thing we started. It was considered when the term freedom was a little bit more concise, what that freedom was from, and for. With the current version of it requiring more context; Free from what? Free to do what? Unrestrained? Or Under understandings? In another piece, I wrote about Common Sense, where did it come from and is it really common? The world you and I live in is subjective, that much is true. But definitions, they contain more ability than we give them credit for, and it rules our nature as much as anything else. In growing into the scale of force that envelopes us today, defining America has been partitioned to the nub.
From media to religions, marketers and racketeer’s, politicians and pawnbrokers, we have constructed our own Ziggurat, our own undoing. It is being witnessed by the millions and understood by all too few. From the Free Press, that is defined by corporate interests and affiliations. To the street gangs, that strive for their own form of secretive communications. The multitude of forces that define, and redefine our culture and society has gone rampant. The label maker is malfunctioning, and the definition of who we are, and what we are, are being ground up in the processes. That part was thought of in the big scheme of things, that big write up we did all those years ago. Those definitions were and are still being argued, but some of them can’t change, or the whole construct collapses, implodes, as it is doing now in front of us. Either a reach for the anarchistic and dystopian future, or a grasp at a truly free and sustainable one? That choice is very much, and fundamentally our singular decision to make. By definition, it is our purpose.
When the headlines read of needed grand gestures, and broad and dramatic changes, the focus on the the smallest of things become necessary. For all of the purpose of intent, there is a balance of cost and consequences. If we cannot even see the smallest pieces of humanity, how are we to solve the bigger issues that plague us? If we are removed from defining the truth, then everything becomes subjective, malleable, and disposable. The false becomes a point of definition, and the sky then begins to fall again. These little things deconstruct our unity, it disrupts our society, and it empowers the corruption of reality by those who would deceive us. The nuclear core meltdown is well underway, have we gotten our blinkers to work yet?
“They just become echo’s,” is how a friend put it. The Doppler Effect of information. With the speed of it, information, approaching that of light, information, news, events, and life, are defined in nanoseconds. It becomes an echo chamber of inputs, and the sound of a train is lost as to whether it is coming at you, or travelling away? Enough inputs and those sounds meant to alert you to danger become lost in all of the din. Linguists are in demand today more than any other time in history, that may not seem like a big deal, but when you consider that we have computerized translators and languages are available to learn on thousands of platforms, that is a sign. It is a sign that we are struggling to understand each other, struggling to define the issues, and solutions in the process. In the meantime, we define our future with what we know, and do, now.
Our futures will be defined, not only by our actions, but our intent. Our intent depends upon, and is brought forth by definitions. Those definitions are being rewritten and co-opted to partisanship, systematic oppression, and counterfactual media. It is being disrupted by class warfare and bigotry, it is being ignored by the very branches of government meant to ensure our safety, our standards, and our laws. These parts of the whole that are acidic to our nature, that we may or may not witness, is a thick morass that has grounded us all with its staggering weight. Within us all is the ability to see the causes and effects, the smallest pieces of humanity that demand more than their share of attention, and parts of life. It is more than an issue that besieges us, but one that also will been seen as defining. In our actions, and inaction, we are still busy at work in this country building business, this future building mode. It is the promise we made to freedom, and to the world itself when we made a declaration of truths, and constituted our purpose to… Defining America.