The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

AMERICA THE BABEL(ING)

Genesis 11:1-9 describes the familiar story of the Tower of Babel:

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar 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 – because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

It has often been said that what differentiates people from other animals is our ability to communicate through speech.  Of course, it is not important that we can make speech but that that speech has meaning to our fellow human beings.  A Finn only fluent in Finnish can not communicate any more effectively with a Bantu who speaks only Bantu than an elephant can communicate with a wombat.

The new secular humanism that we find throughout American society today, in its efforts to establish itself as the new state religion, recognizes the importance that language plays in their efforts to divide and conquer.  It is my belief, for that reason, that in their role as pseudo-lord, they are making every effort to confuse Americans by attempting to make this nation into a polyglot country.

If we have any question that a common language serves to unify a people, we have to look no further than the example which China has set.  One of the key programs which the government of China imposed was that it recognized Mandarin as the official language of the country (guo yu).  While people could continue to speak the over one thousand different dialects that existed, they were forced to learn the official language.

In fact, the government went about the work of simplifying the characters in which Chinese had universally been written (although the spoken word was quite different from province to province) in order that more people would be able to learn to read it.

The United States has moved in exactly the opposite direction.  While we have no officially “ordained” language established by the Constitution, for over two hundred years, English was the “de facto” official language.  Immigrants who came to the country realized that they (or at least their children) had to learn it in order to have a chance of success in their new homeland.

In part, that was because signs, legal documents, election ballots, bank statements and virtually everything else that was of legal or financial importance were written in English and only in English.  There was no government pronouncement on English as our “official language”.  But neither was there any intervention on government’s part to alter the customs of the country which were well established.

That, of course, has changed dramatically.  The “progressive” agenda of the government has begun to play a serious role in how we Americans communicate with one another – or fail to do so.  The Justice Department believes that it has the right to dictate to local election districts in what language(s) they must print election materials including ballots to accommodate minority populations for whom English is not their primary language.

And businesses have, as a matter of self-interest rather than merely through government pressure (although there has been much of that as well), adopted that same technique.  We have all experienced calling a bank or utility and been told by the robotic menu to press “1” for English or “2” for Spanish.  This morning, my ATM offered me those two choices in which to continue my transaction.  (Why not Swahili)?

The man who invented Esperanto in the late 19th century, Dr. Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof realized that a common language was essential to establishing a common understanding between people who were diverse:

“The place where I was born and spent my childhood gave direction to all my future struggles. In Bialystok the inhabitants were divided into four distinct elements: Russians, Poles, Germans and Jews; each of these spoke their own language and looked on all the others as enemies. In such a town a sensitive nature feels more acutely than elsewhere the misery caused by language division and sees at every step that the diversity of languages is the first, or at least the most influential, basis for the separation of the human family into groups of enemies. I was brought up as an idealist; I was taught that all people were brothers, while outside in the street at every step I felt that there were no people, only Russians, Poles, Germans, Jews and so on. This was always a great torment to my infant mind.  Although many people may smile at such an ‘anguish for the world’ in a child, at that time I thought that ‘grown-ups’ were omnipotent.  So I often said to myself that when I grew up I would certainly destroy this evil.”

We really have to do little but sit down with a few days’ worth of news stories to understand the vision that Dr. Zamenhof had, even as a child.  The Zimmerman verdict is an obvious example.  Although in this case, those who are outraged at the outcome and those who support it mostly speak a version of English – but they are two separate and completely different languages.

Were I to sit down with those who are the most vocal and try to engage in a meaningful conversation, I know that I would have to select my words carefully.  That is not for fear of offense but in order to communicate with them.  I would have to try not to employ words that I learned past my grammar school education.

I suspect that if I had written and printed up this post in time for last week’s rallies and distributed it to those marching for “justice,” only a very small percentage would have been able to comprehend much of the vocabulary and an even smaller percentage would have understood the thrust of it.

That paragraph was not written with the intent to demean those who have been under-served by our “educational” system.  It was written to point out a harsh reality that unfortunately exists.  We have managed to “educate” several generations of an underclass that can only communicate with one another; that no intelligent business owner would hire; and that is lost in the mire of limited and garbled verbiage, unable to express their frustration other than through bursts of outrage.

“With all thy getting, get understanding.”  – Proverbs 4:7

There will never be understanding between people if we cannot comprehend what each of us is saying.  And our present policies, unfortunately, are designed to insure that we communicate by using sticks and stones rather than through a dispassionate conversation and a warm handshake.

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Comments on: "AMERICA THE BABEL(ING)" (11)

  1. A well presented blog! Secular humanism you mentioned is actually a competing religion of these times.

  2. I’ll do the specific, since you did the general wonderfully.

    It’s highly appropriate for a business to make the effort to communicate in whatever language is necessary. The purpose of business communication, like everything a business does is profit, and everything legal should be done to maximise it.

    That is not true for government, it is perhaps appropriate for some functions to have translators available, at the users expense, perhaps, not necessarily.

    The language of the United States is American English, and it has become as much of a lingua franca as Latin was during the Roman Empire, for the same reason. It is entirely counterproductive for those who should be speaking American English to be abandoning it as the rest of the world picks it up. And certain entire industries, such as aerospace, anywhere in the world, are off limits to you if you don’t speak reasonable English.

    All my life I have been exhorted to learn another language, and I still see little reason, unless I want to visit the country, if you want to deal with me, speak English.

    • Well, as usual, I agree with you … mostly. (Am I hosting the next meeting of our mutual admiration society of is it your turn)?.

      “The purpose of business communication, like everything a business does is profit, and everything legal should be done to maximise it.”

      I would suggest that there is an ethical requirement that may supercede or at the least go beyond the legal statutes.

      An example is the output that spews in large measure from Hollywood.

      Obviously, the product which they create is legal – or it would not be shown on movie theaters. However, the amount of vulgarity, gratuitous sex and violence may well contribute to our developing and embracing a dissolute culture.

      If it were proven that last statement is true, in the absence of any change in the law, I believe that as a matter of ethics Hollywood producers should voluntarily refrain from making additional pictures of that kind. But we both know that will never happen.

      • I’ve lost track but I suspect it’s my turn 🙂

        In truth I have no problem with substituting ethical (or moral, for that matter) for legal. My only problem is that so many in business ( or politics) have no ethics, or morality, leaving only legal. Somebody once said that if you have to teach ethics, you’ve already lost. I hope that is not true.

        Hollyweird, per se, exemplifies that problem with the added fillip of free speech concerns. It’s one that I have no particular idea of what (if anything) is proper to do, other than do a better job of educating people in ethics and morality and thereby dry up the market (and yes, I do recognize that as a very long shot).

        Even if your statement is not proven, it feels anecdotally true, and a truly ethical entertainment provider would restrict his output accordingly, but, see my opinion of ethics in entertainment above. And that unfortunately brings us back around the barn to legal.

        I wish I had a better answer.

      • I wish I did as well.

      • It’s a tough area but, like anything, it can be solved. It would be easier with people of goodwill.

  3. Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

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