Monday, December 22, 2008

What is Babylon?

Image Source: "Tower of Babel"

Babylon is a term used by some to describe a society that is inherently un-sustainable. To some of the Rastafarian way of life, Babylon is used to describe a society that is on a path to destruction due to corruption of government and ignorance of the people when it comes to managing the communities resources. Drawing reference to the Tower of Babel which was built in ancient times as a means to use technology to gain access to the heavens, the word Babylon describes a societies shortsightedness when looking to inappropriate technology to solve spiritual and material short comings.

If you live in a city, most likely you are living in Babylon. Babylon represents the current paradigm--the current linear system of resource extraction and waste generation. The linear system of thought can be seen in just about every major business, be it energy creation or agricultural commodities. Linear systems make business sense in the short term, but in the long term they are a recipe for ecological disaster due to the finite nature of Earth's resources (i.e. coal, oil, top-soil, water, forests, air etc).

Babylon can also be described as a society ruled unfairly by corrupt public officials. In a society where the aim is to keep the population ignorant of what is truly going, your in Babylon. In a society where economic systems are created for the benefit of top 2%, while the majority suffer in debt and poverty, your in Babylon. In a society where ecological and social benefits are waved in order to fill the pockets of large companies and investment bankers, your in Babylon. In a society that can come crashing down with oil shortages and natural disasters, your in Babylon.

The idea is pretty simple, and once one begins to learn what forces really make society move and operate, then one can begin the path of making change and finding what niches in society require policy change and revamping. To live in Babylon is to be dependent upon a system that could fail anytime. To live in Babylon is to live a life in vulnerability and risk. Indeed, Babylon is a profound issue--as issue that must be addressed so that a new paradigm can be created.

When we speak of paradigm shifts, we speak of completely changing the way we look at the world for our needs. A transition from global thinking to local thinking is paradigm shift. A transition from combustion for locomotion to compression is a paradigm shift. A transition from importing food to exporting food is a paradigm shift. Paradigm shifts are often hard to understand and are almost always met with opposition. To ask a man whose salary depends upon one way of thinking, to change and think in a different way that would take away his paycheck, of course one will object to change. To ask a person whose reality is composed of current social trends and understandings to change, to completely reform ways of consumption and traveling, of course one will be met with resistance because life is hard enough just trying to fit in, let alone adapting and forming new identies and connections. Indeed, change is tough. Life is inherently in constant motion and to resist this motion is to resist some of the most fundamental patterns of nature.

1 comment:

  1. Another useful metaphor that I've come across recently -- is, the 'white elephant'. A white elephant is a symbol which denotes something whose value exceeds its costs; something that cannot be replaced, and is of extreme value. Earth is a white elephant, and we very much need to change our course if we hope for the continued life of our species.