there are a few lessons from Babel that we ought to consider:
- Diversity is not a strength. At least, it’s not a strength in the granular sense that the left proclaims today (i.e. that America’s or any other singular nation’s strength correlates positively with its internal diversity.) God gave us different languages (and consequently cultures) specifically to curb sinful humanity, make us weaker, and break us apart.It’s not hard to observe precisely that happening in America today. Mass migration has done what it has always done throughout history and put the different interests of native & migrant (and migrant & migrant) at odds with one another. Our exponentially growing list of identities has fractured us into a mess of special interests who cannot agree on how we want to live together, how we want to be governed, or how we want to be educated.The Biblical and the empirical reality is that diversity divides rather than unites precisely because we are less capable when a mish-mash of different cultures and ideologies are forced together into the same mold.
- Having different nations in the world is a good thing. Diversity is a weakness for a nation, but a strength for humanity as a whole. As has already been mentioned, when one nation succumbs to evil, others can defend themselves against it. Even in the worst cases, there’s at least somewhere to run.But even apart from the times when tyrants arise, not everybody in the world wants to live the same way—and that’s ok. There are a multitude of ways to restrain wickedness and form a civilization, but some work better than others—and some work better in different circumstances and for different people. Having many different nations means that we have many different attempts at exploring these possibilities and different options for different people.And this is the work of generations, not just the work of a few social programs and orientation classes. One cannot simply take a people who have trained themselves in one way and expect them to immediately adopt another. Neither can one expect a mishmash of people trained in radically different ways of life to effectively live together. There are certainly moral values and shared characteristics that are universal to humanity, but they are expressed and pursued in different ways. Some do so well, some do so poorly, but having different ways of doing so is a blessing in a fallen world.Globalism, in contrast, proclaims that humans are fungible—that an American can be replaced by a Mexican, a Swede by an Arab, etc. Though it wears the happy face of peace & unity, it is an anti-human ideology that attempts to expunge all of the particulars—heritage, culture, identity, religion, and family–that make us who we are. Because a truly diverse assortment of people cannot effectively join together at one, globalism has no choice but to attempt to dissolve those differences and undo Babel. You see this same dynamic at work on a large scale in communism and fascism and on a small scale every time multiculturalists celebrate diversity by annihilating culture.
- We should be thankful for the resurgence of nationalism taking place in the West. If having different nations is a good thing in this world, then we should welcome the preservation of those differences.Nationalism’s reputation is tainted mainly due to our endless history of war between nations. When different nations have conflicting interests, then these conflicts will sometimes erupt into violence. The naive progressive will compare this sorry state of affairs with an imagined nationless world in which there are no remaining differences over which to fight—and they will then wonder why anyone would want to preserve the nations at all. The wise man, however, will not compare gritty reality with ephemeral utopia—he will compare one gritty reality with another.When it comes to violence and human misery, wars between nations pale in comparison to what utopians have done to their own people in the past century or so. Progressive unity movements ruthlessly slaughtered tens of millions of people for the sake of annihilating humans distinctions like race, class, and culture that prevented the kind of human cooperation they sought. Progressivism was and remains an attempt to undo God’s work at Babel and rebuild Nimrod’s Tower out of corpses in the hopes of finally reaching the heavens.Nationalism is by no means perfect, but it is the golden mean between tribalism and globalism. It allows for the unity of some portion of compatible tribes to work together for the sake of civilization without demanding the conquest of the incompatible tribes.
- Pentecost is for the Church, not the World. On the first day of Pentecost after the Resurrection, the Holy Spirit came upon Christ’s Apostles and everyone heard them in their own language. God Himself undid the confusion of Babel so that the Gospel would be proclaimed to all nations. Paul likewise tells us that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek. The book of Revelation describes a great multitude from every tribe and nation who stand together before the throne of God. The division of humanity for the sake of restraining our sinfulness is the middle of the story, but not the end. In the end, it is God who unites us all through Jesus Christ, for he died for the sins of the whole world.But although the Church transcends the nations, she does not replace them. Jesus told us in no uncertain terms that his Kingdom not of this world and that this is why his followers did not fight to save him. The Church’s task is to deliver the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation to the entire world, not to exert temporal authority over it. In contrast, the task of temporal authority is that of civilization—to punish wrongdoing and commend right-doing so that we can live in relative peace with one another instead of living in constant fear of being raped, robbed, or murdered. These are two different missions, and Christians need to take care not to confuse them.It is therefore not our job to try and dissolve national boundaries anymore than its the job of civil authorities to dissolve the boundaries between different religions. We should not be insisting that our nation open its borders to the world anymore than our nation should insist that Muslims, Hindus, and Satanists have equal representation in our various organizations. When we conflate these two kingdoms, we do nothing but increase human misery and deprive people of God’s gifts to us.
By Christian reckoning, God, like any father, disciplines those whom he loves for their own good. Babel is one example of such discipline, and it is a gift. Discipline comes to an end when it has run its course, and so God has promised an end to war, conflict, and division when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead. In the meantime, however, we ought not try to bring a premature end to God’s discipline. And whether one believes in God or not, one can still look at history and easily observe the consequences of progressivism and ponder the blood that has been spilled for utopian ideals. One can still observe the utility of nations and the dangers of globalism.
It’s time we stop trying “fix” Babel.
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