The etymology connotes the Biblical narrative found in Genesis, generally referred to as the Tower of Babel; in that case, not of words, but of civilizations attempting to reach the heavens in order to breach the power of the universe. But Babel was more than the diaspora of a rebellious cabal of God’s children gathered to defy and deface; it had to do with evil, impure intent, and the conspiracy of human depravity in the face of a pure heaven and the violation of man’s sacrosanct relationship implicit after the metaphor of the Great Flood.
Words, likewise, hold such a contractual connection. They were meant to convey the differentiation between Truth and Falsity, and to correspond to the objective universe in communicating the worth and beauty of a sanctified world. The defamation of that level of spiritual relationship was violated not because of the tower’s construction; rather, Babel’s unanswerable sin had to do with the depravity of the human heart, and the essence of a soul’s darkening.
Whatever the motivation of the gathering’s aggregate will never be known; and of individual reasons for participating in the construction of such a structure, we can only guess at; but what is clear is that the response was one of anger, and such reaction must have had a reason: the dispersion was both an explanation of the state of current affairs, a forewarning for any who might consider future similar actions, and a consequence of man’s violation of a once-sacred right.
Modernity suffers from a parallel state of affairs. Though clinging to the paradigm of a Darwinian explanation of human history, and devoid of everything spiritual, mythological or generational transfers of traditional narratives, the metaphorical pile of words we amass reflect not just an attempt to become gods ourselves, but in the very process, to rebel against the very foundation of what words were meant to accomplish.
Once upon a time, in the flickering shadows and glow from fires where the village gathered to hear the storytelling ancients of the town historian, sorcerer and magic healer, the traditions carried forth from the inception of timelessness into the mysteries of the heart would pierce like the spear of the warrior, and children listened with wide-eyed wonder at the shaman who effortlessly rolled the tales from tongues emitting not mere sounds, but images and shadows of pictures more frightening than the lion’s roar or the wild boar’s tusks.
Words spoken, meant something, then. Truth was bundled in the very telling of the tale; and falsity reflected the depravity of man’s heart, confounded by the loss of innocence in a world gone mad.
We can still get a sense of that — that encounter with words, meaning and truth; and, indeed, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who must convey facts, circumstances and narratives of human experience when preparing, formulating and filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal employee or U.S. Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the piling of words upon words must convey a test of reality, and a dose of the shaman’s storytelling.
Preparing a Federal Disability Retirement application is, in the end, not just creating a word pile; it is to communicate the essence of the human condition in a world which often fails to listen, and refuses to hear. That is why it is important to formulate it effectively, accurately, and with a coherence beyond mere word piling, lest the fall be a cloud of dust greater than the collapse of the Tower of Babel.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire