The story of the Tower of Babel gets a bad rap. People use that story to define how people began to speak another language. I think that interpretation takes away a big moral of the story. The people of Babel were trying to build a tower that could reach the heavens. The only way God could stop these folks is to separate them through the way they speak. The story’s moral is to look at what people can do when united.
People can do the unthinkable when they are united towards a singular goal. By oneself, nothing can be done. This only proves the interconnectedness that we have with each other. We have an innate need to want to be together. When it comes to our work, we want to be a part of something where a diverse set of individuals come together in the spirit of collaboration. This is why the need for belonging is so important.
We knew this when we were kids, looking for our friends on the playground for the first time. We need that group of people we can rely on because school, work, and life can be hard to navigate without people in our corner. Life can have a different outcome if we spend most of our time believing that we don’t need people and that isolation is a preferred method. The idea of interconnectedness isn’t a “woo woo” thing. You explain how you can feel someone else looking at you.
Competition Separates Us
The problem with our world is that every mandatory form of living comes with competition. The need to “win” causes us to be individualistic and deemed special based on our perceived advantages over other people. Children who get good grades are more likely to be praised in school, while those who get bad grades are deemed bad children. We still haven’t come to the conclusion that these five letters mean absolutely nothing to what a child is capable of doing. Yet, we use them as a standard for comparison. I was one of those kids that got good grades. It allowed me some luxuries. For one, I could disrupt the class with a joke and not be chastised because I knew what was happening. A person with a lower grade wouldn’t get that benefit and thus be treated differently because of their performance within the class.
So, instead of learning, the kids try to do better than others. Better grades mean better treatment from teachers and parents when children show off good grades at home. This is the competition. The valedictorian is comparing themselves to the salutatorian. The person in the band is trying to maintain their status as the first chair from the person in the second. This makes the smart person special, the most athletic person special, the most popular person special, and everyone else is less than. Everyone in the building is trying to find their arena in which they can be better than someone else. This is how we find our value. We grow up and then wonder why work culture is so toxic.
We’re All in This Together
Sorry, I couldn’t help this. All this talk about unity had me thinking about High School Musical and people bouncing basketball balls in the cafeteria. What if we actually went to school where we shared in our successes. Yes, one can say that would happen in team projects, but I’ve been in many “teams” where the project outcome was more important than working as a unit. As a result, the high achiever removes the slacker so that the grade isn’t in jeopardy. This needs to radically change. I’m definitely not the same. We have unique gifts, but how powerful would our gifts be if we synchronized them with others in unity.
On your next day out and about, look at what you see. You’ll see transportation systems, cars, buildings, roads, street lights, businesses, homes, amongst other things. Do you believe that any of these things were done by one person? I don’t have to wait for an answer. Our entire world was built collectively. The beautiful things in life were done through collective effort. In contrast, the actions that ruin the beauty we created come from selfishness. It’s the greed that created the housing market crisis of 2008. Individualistic greed made Blackberry a household name; now, it is only referred to as a fruit. If we do things for ourselves, that thing won’t last. If we do things for each others, you can only imagine the possibilities.