THE NEW TOWER OF BABEL 

The essence and function of every language is to allow for communication among people by recognizing a common worldview as represented by the arbitrary signs that give reality a peculiar characteristic: our own. The lack of a common language among people produces misunderstandings, doubts, uncertainty, and suspicion. Thus, as soon as the ambitious builders of the fabulous tower -human beings, after all-lost their common language of mutual understanding, they encountered misinterpretations and quarrel. They were confused by the inefficacy of their incomprehensible languages. The great project, that excessive symbol of the utmost human aspiration-absolute knowledge-ended up in nothing: scaffoldings and an unfinished construction that soon after were only ruins, the evocative rests of a dream that became impossible.

Divine punishment or not, the languages of the many peoples -all of them so beautiful, each one in its own way-have always been, from the times of its enigmatic beginnings, a sign of a distinctive cultural identity. Because of this languages have been the cause of blind clashes and the source of violence. To speak differently is to be different. To speak another language is to belong to an alien world, a world unknown too most and thought to be hostile and terrible. It is a suspicious world because it is named and defined differently. In the undecipherable sign of the language appears the undecipherable mind of the others, the unknown aliens, and the outsiders. In their incoherent prattle becomes evident their essential difference, their dangerous belonging to another tribe, another race, another form of understanding reality and its mystery.

Thus the need many have of imposing the only possible language: their own. Theirs is the only word that can express the one and only simple truth. Deaf to the voice of the others, they transform them by their rejection into mute individuals, a people unable to communicate beyond the absurd gesticulations of those who try desperately to make themselves understood. Innumerable are the arms that have desperately gesticulated in our history. Innumerable are the faces that have tried and will continue to try to express through their incomprehensible grimaces. One after another our ancestral languages -those from here as well as those from afar-have been slowly silenced only to reach a voice again in the adopted common language of the land. The language we all use, the national language that although is not the official one, acts as if were because of historic reasons, tradition, and number of speakers.

Many have been the languages and dialects that with time have become mute among us. Many the languages that will be transformed in the language of the many, the language imposed by circumstances, the language that makes it possible for us to coordinate our efforts in the never-ending construction of the new tower growing toward the skies. This collective project and its completion through constant dialogue needs this common language that can express our different views on our future world.

There is one language, though, that has not disappeared under the powerful pressure of the language that prevails among us. Like this one, it gets its strength from its dominion over other languages. In its overwhelming power -it is the language of millions and has a long history backing it-it is becoming, with its growing confidence in itself and its vision, a parallel form of expression, a complementary voice that could very well reach in a non too distant future the status of a common language, the same as the other one. This duality of messages, different from what happened in the Biblical story of the abandoned tower, shall not lead to the confusion of misunderstanding, and the fighting caused by mutual distrust. On the contrary, these two languages, English and Spanish, will dialogue in a true exchange of views and together will accomplish the bold project of erecting the new tower of Babel, the one that this time will definitely reach the utmost heights. •


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