Our Tower of Babble
We are in a babbling time, even a blabbering time.
So much assaults our ears, our minds, our tendencies. There is so much to get our hackles up over, to take sides on, to gossip about and share with our friends.
Enough already. This mobile device I have in my pocket has its uses, but somehow our consulting it has turned us against one another. Our rampant googling presumes to make us each an authority over the other. Somehow the fingertip availability of the internet has succeeded in garbling our words, as we climb one upon the other in order to shout the loudest from the tallest point.
There is something very wrong, yet very familiar, about this. It has me consulting Genesis 11:1-9 where I read the troubling story of the tower of Babel.
“Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 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.”
But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 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. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 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.”Genesis 11:1-9 NIV
Are we in our own tower of Babel time? In these days, have we become so engrossed in our “connecting” through the internet and “building” relationships online that we are failing to see and hear what’s true, what’s noble, what’s right, what’s pure, what’s lovely, what’s admirable, and all that is excellent and praiseworthy in our midst? (from Phil 4:8) Because this is what we are charged with doing. And what’s more, these things are what are meant to shape our thinking, and convict or confirm us in our doing.
So, if all of this babbling is distracting me from my purpose, then I had best set aside the shouting going on around me and attend to the whisper within me that says, “You know Me. I am here. Talk to Me. Confirm with Me. Ask questions of Me.”
The best way I know to do this I have set to writing in, Made to Move: Knowing and Loving God Through Our Bodies.* God has given me this life and this body in which to live it. God expects better from me, and I believe, better from all of us tuned into the God channel.
Today, God has reminded me, Wendy, if you’re having a problem with the way your world is working, you hold in your hands the way I have given you to come and find me again. Get out that book of yours and the Book of mine and let’s work our way through it.
Friends, will you join me for Made to Move online? I will post the writings and welcome daily comments at the blog on my author website. (https://wendylebolt.com/) We’ll kick off this Sunday! Let’s gather there and leave the babble on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the others behind.
*Learn more about Made to Move and order print or digital versions here.
What do I do with my “me too”? One Woman’s Manifesto
Me too…I am seeing it on Facebook posts, in comments and in conversation far and wide.
I am not sure where it came from, but it’s picking up steam. Why? Because it’s the skeleton in every woman’s closet, the elephant in every room. We’ve carried it cautiously, buried it fastidiously, and borne it boldly until someone tugged it out. Now we’re shocked at the commonness of our experience.
Me too. ME TOO. Me too, we type. We read and think, oh my, you too? And in confessing, we join hands. Fervently, supportively, collegially, then boldly and angrily, but to what effect? We’re angry with no place to put our anger.
Here’s the thing. Everyone who acknowledges and shares a “me too” takes themselves back to that moment in time and place and sensation. We re-live that abuse, that violation, that pain. That’s the way the mind works: our past, when recalled, becomes our present, even if it was a long, long time ago.
This is the invisible danger of the injury perpetrated by sexual harassment and abuse. Borne quietly, culturally dismissed, left unaddressed or without proper resolution, this wounding leaves scars. We are the nesting dolls of ourselves. Everything we have ever lived is re-shaped and covered over by layer upon layer of our next set of selves. Our minds hold the experience of our bodies, even when no scars are apparent. A “me too” campaign activates those all over again.
The pain out there is a real and present danger to full mind and body health. Seeing the magnitude of this effect leaves me both bereft and emboldened. It has me asking, How did what happened to me effect me? How has this behavior been perpetuated?
First, I thank God for the safe haven He provides me to return in my mind to the scene of this crime. A minor incident, I would call it, though my recollection after nearly thirty years would disavow that.
I didn’t say anything. What would I say? No harm done, no physical evidence, no witnesses. Confrontation would have risked elevation, exposure or worse, but I had no conscious thought of these things at the time. There was disgust, acknowledgement of my powerlessness and, yes, even consideration that somehow what I wore that day — skirt and top befitting a college professor in modern fashion — might have made me a target. Should I have been more observant? Was I too trusting of strangers? too naive? (How do we manage to re-work things to find ourselves at fault?)
Just imagine, all that percolation from a moment three decades old, which the “me too” project has bubbling to the surface. I don’t appreciate that, but here we are and I am very not alone. My question for me is, What do I do with my Me Too? Because victim is a role I have never played very well.
Here is my manifesto:
- As a woman, I have heard men say that their private misbehavior is no one else’s business. It is. It leaves lasting scars on the people they have wronged, both the victim of their sexual affront and the family which suffers under the weight of it. My to do: I will speak the truth to any individual who hides behind this lie.
- As a voter, I have heard our President confess that he has participated in sexual assault and then dismiss it as “locker room talk.” My to do: I will continue to cast my vote only for individuals who demonstrate good character and responsible behavior and NEVER for a professed and unrepentant assaulter.
- As a colleague and friend, I now realize that there are many women living with these secret wounds. My to do: I will offer a listening heart to those who want and need to share their story, hoping that some healing will come of this.
- As the mother of three daughters, I now realize how pervasive is the brokenness and sexual sin-sickness in the world they are entering as young adult women. My to do: I will boldly work for a safe and healthy world for them, demonstrating by my words and actions that gender fear has no place here.
- As a writer, I cannot leave these things unwritten or unsaid.
The “Me too” barrage has me marveling at the design of the human mind, equipped as it is, with memory prone to be prodded by emotionally charged things–good, bad or indifferent. We must tread here with caution because these bits do linger and have the power to change us. There in the shadows they may influence us, even without our permission or intention.
While God has the power to forget and forgive, we fragile humans tend to recall things. We can call on God to help us heal those memories, allowing Him to fill in and smooth out the rough places to make a way toward a firmer future.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jeremiah 29:11
God has got plans for you and me, too.
Deception is never harmless and often lasting
It seems harmless. A phrase posted on a Facebook status. It’s not true, but it’s part of a game. You post something that is nonsensical or hard to believe about yourself and then the comments start rolling in. What? What are you talking about? The trick is, everyone who comments then has to post one of these phrases on their status. And their friends, and their friends, and so on. This is how it can go viral. Which is exactly what the Breast Cancer folks want (read irony into that if you will) who started this “game” in the first place.
Here are your options if you want to play the game:
“LOL…You should not have liked or commented! Now you have to pick one of the 14 below and post to your status. This is the 2014 breast cancer awareness game. Don’t be a spoil sport! Choose your poison and change your status: 1) Damn diarrhea 2) Just used my boobs to get out of a speeding ticket 3) Anyone have a tampon, I’m out 4) How do you get rid of foot fungus 5) Why is nobody around when I’m horny? 6) No toilet paper goodbye socks! Post with no explanations. 7)Someone offered me a job as a prostitute but I’m hesitant. 8)I think I’m in love with someone what should I do? 9)I’ve decided 2 stop wearing underwear. 10)I still love my ex. 11)I really don’t know how 2 tell anyone and I’m sick of hiding it I’m gay. 12)Guess it was 2 good 2 b true I’m pregnant. 13)Just won $7000 on a scratchy. 14)I’ve just found out I’ve been cheated on for the past 5 months.Post with no explanations. Sorry I fell for it too ! LOL!!!”
Now “Don’t be a spoil sport.” “Choose your poison. “Now you have to…” Do any of those send out bells and whistles for you? … Just a game.
I declined to participate ~ which should be option #15. Even when this choice isn’t stated, it’s available. We can choose another path. I’m good with that. No hard feelings.
Except, in this case the status my friend posted was #13, the ‘least harmless’ I am sure it seemed to her. As a committed Christian, it’s the least obtrusive, least likely to hurt anyone who misunderstands. She was just sharing some “made up good news.” Since I am a close friend, I see all her status posts and was immediately excited for her. Albeit a bit confused that she had a lottery ticket but still, it’s nice to hear that a good person has stumbled on some really good fortune.
Then, when I commented with “!!!” I got her message with the “changes of status” that I had to choose from. I was appalled. Actually angry. Here was someone I trusted. I actually celebrated her good news and then she said, “Gotcha!”
Harmless, right? Well no. Because I know people who have fallen for “good news” …
- the good news that someone loves them, then really doesn’t
- good news that they’ve won a trip when they really haven’t
- good news that they are under consideration for a spot on the team when they really weren’t
- good news that life will get better and it hasn’t
There is lots of news out there masquerading as good news and it isn’t. When we practice deceit in the guise of good news it’s even worse than deceiving with news that is suspect. Because everyone knows to be suspicious of that. But people who have fallen prey to good news that wasn’t learn that news is not trustworthy, and they determine that they will never be so stupid again as to be deceived by anyone bearing good news. Their hearts are hardened against the one thing that will save them. This sounds to me like very bad news indeed.
Yes, as a Christian I must be discerning about all I read and all I hear, but especially about all I share. Because it has the power to reach the ends of the earth. And there’s only one thing that should have that power. Sharing anything else disrupts the power lines. And that is very, very bad news indeed.
I am with the Breast Cancer Community heart and soul. I have many friends who have suffered with this illness, some who currently are. Cancer, itself, is doing a fine job of spreading the news of the horror of this illness, it’s treatment and the lives lived in the shadow of it. But spreading good news and calling it true when it isn’t gives an already skeptical society even more reason not to trust good news when they hear it. And that is certainly not what you intend to go viral. In fact, it sounds much more like cancer.