— By LARRY M. JONES
Although it seems to be debatable in certain segments of society today, the primary attribute of mankind that distinguishes us from lower mammalian forms is our intellect. This superior cognitive ability has enabled us to achieve a level of sophistication without peer in the animal world. I would suggest that the keystone of this intellectual achievement is our ability to communicate and document our thoughts.
We know that all creatures communicate, or at least respond to certain stimuli, but in most cases this interaction is for purposes of procreation and maintaining the species. While equally necessary to mankind, we further have the luxury to create, explore, and philosophically ponder life’s perturbations and permutations.
From the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament, we are told through earliest interpretations that construction of the Tower of Babel was an act of defiance against God ordered by the tyrant Nimrod, and God created a “confusion of tongues” to disrupt its completion. Without the ability to communicate, production will certainly suffer.
One of the defining features of the United States was our adoption of the “melting pot” mentality in establishment of our nation. We are a nation of immigrants with an assemblage of many cultures, languages, and dialects, but rarely have these diverging features carried on past the first generation. Initially established as a predominantly Judeo-Christian, English speaking nation, the United States has largely maintained this common thread to provide for a unified nation.
Anywhere in the U.S., we have always known we would be able to communicate and share our common heritage. This unique characteristic is coming more and more under siege.
I fail to understand why there are those in our midst that wish to diminish our nationalism, create independent subcultures, and Balkanize our culture into a Babel-like disaster. Why are we intent on enabling divisive and contradictory attitudes that compromise the unity of our confederation of states? Our name should be our directive. If we are not united toward a single national interest, we cannot survive.
In recent decades the English language that has provided our common thread has been under a continuous siege of apathy and abuse from multiple fronts. Failure to demand “English Only” of our citizens is not the blessing liberal proponents believe. Printing government forms, ballots, and documents in a variety of languages takes away the incentive to learn English and become an American. In addition, our public schools are spending tremendous amounts teaching dual language curricula.
Instruction in English grammar has been dumbed down to the lowest common denominator, ethnic slang is rampant and texting and social networking are further corrupting our language skills. Not unlike the CB radio lunacy of the 1970s, it seems each generation has to have its own way of being unique. Police, firemen and medical personnel have their own little “rice bowl” of profession-specific terminology to set themselves apart from the masses. The same is true for the military, where acronyms often dominate the speech.
We must seek to bring back the melting pot concept to America. Balkanizing our nation and encouraging our citizens to retain separate identities based on language, religion, ethnicity, heritage, or other unique facets is guaranteed chaos. Failure to demand proper use of the English language and making American allegiance optional is a guaranteed recipe for “babel.”
Larry M. Jones is a retired Navy commander and aviator who raises cattle and hay in the Brock/Lazy Bend part of Parker County. Comments may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.