A citizen of the world can sign up for membership at a Crossfit box at locations from the Cook Islands to Istanbul. I attend wedding receptions and meet immigrants from everywhere, and everybody dances to the same American music (usually hip-hop). The US military spans the globe, and English is the international language of business, aviation and maritime. Over 1 million people immigrate to the US each year, as many as arrived in Europe in 2015. Why can't this prosperity-fueled dream last forever? Can't we all just get along?
I was sincerely asking myself these questions. After all, has not +Francis of Lampedusa himself assured us our catholic and apostolic Faith has lifted the curse of Babel?
Genesis 11:1-9Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)And the answer is, no we can't, and the reason we can't is Power, and all the noble impulses and charitable feelings and wishful thinking won't change the outcome. A world of transnational governance is so remote from the diffuse taxpayers who support it as to be completely unaccountable. Witness the obscene disregard for constituencies with transnational organizations like the EU, whose wealthy bureaucrats unleash Muslim net tax-consumers on their peoples. NATO casually blows up functioning countries. The TPA/TAA/TPP is thousands and thousands of pages of impenetrable, lobbyist-drafted, anti-democratic legalese which no Representative, much less his hapless, anonymous constituents, could coherently analyze for beneficence of the national interest.
11 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. 4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. 6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
Power, like wealth and ethyl alcohol, is an intoxicant. It makes people do dangerous and stupid things. But it is a collateral characteristic of power which drives this process, and that is its craving for altitude. As our friend Porter so succinctly and elegantly puts it,
These were the thoughts as a friend called today to ask my opinion of some local political trifle. Upon expressing ignorance of the issue, he quipped “You know more about what’s going on across the world than you do across town.” And that’s true. Because whether meter maids are working on Wednesday afternoons will ultimately exert less gravity on my life than the large objects forming far away. It’s a poignant realization that politicians closest (and thus most conceivably responsive) to their citizens are those least empowered to serve their interests. While that is unfortunate for man’s happiness and dignity, it’s not at all atypical to his station through history.And to reiterate, that is why we can't rebuild Babel, because power craves altitude. The transnational apparatus erected to administer the global village is a ravenous, impersonal, totalitarian Beast. And ultimately fragile and doomed to collapse as every scaled, complex empire in human history has ever ended up.
Because power craves altitude. It seeks the greatest possible elevation from those rooted to the ground. Only constant vigilance and viable threat of head/neck separation have ever leashed power to the same plane as the people. Those too stupefied, venal, or craven to hold the ropes can be assured of it quickly levitating far from their input. And that is much of what passes for current political discussions in both America and Europe: a frantic “come back!” gesturing toward the fading helium balloon called government of the people, by the people, and for the people. I guess we’re just not the people.
But we never learn. Thank God for his enduring, eternal Grace.
P.S.: Speaking of Babel, language is uniquely confounding. Translation, particularly outside language-families, is notoriously difficult. Different language and the related idioms shut off a whole host of interpersonal signals. Language is such a patent and difficult barrier, one wonders if it is an evolved response. The Creator apparently thought it was important.