Friday, January 15, 2016

Alas, Babylon

I have just been reading Isaiah chapter 13 and following; an oracle against Babylon.  What a perspective one gets from reading literature that is over 3000 years old!

Babylon was the premier empire and culture of its age.  Huge public works, a walled city, a complex government with grand viziers and satraps.  It was beautiful and prosperous.  Almost certainly the people who lived during its prime could not imagine a world in which it was not preeminent, let alone nonexistent.

Now, some 2500 years later, it is utterly, completely gone.  Covered by sand.  No trace except archeological digs.  Again, gone.  First it was overthrown, then abandoned and occupied only by wild animals, as described in the prophecy, then (now) simply gone.  How sobering.

Today we in the US, and certainly in the "West" generally, consider ourselves "the greatest people, the greatest nation, nothing like us ever was."  

   We worry about ISIS.  We worry about economic slowdown and collapse.  We worry about global warming, that will cause desertification of our tropics and inundation of our coastal cities.  From the 3000-years-hence point of view, all these fears will almost certainly be realized.  We will be utterly gone and forgotten, just like the Babylonians.  The Egyptian pharaohs, The Medes and Persians, the Roman Empire.  Read the beginning of Ecclesiastes.  There will be no remembrance of us.  

Does nothing last?  If our greatest works become dust and ashes, to what end do we live?  

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