The Tower of Babel: a guide for wall-builders, border-champions and their ilk

91blanq0xbl“You must know that the houses of Constantinople were built by mixed teams of workers. The reason is clear to see. Turkish carpenters are very good at working and sawing wood, but they can’t carve stone. And a house without a stone foundation is an unstable house. That’s why we turn to Armenian, Greek, and Arab stonecutters. So some of the people dig the foundation: the others build the upper stories and the roof. … Of course, you know the Bible story of the Tower of Babel. Well, many people think the Lord scattered the tongues of men to punish them, but it’s exactly the opposite. He saw that uniformity made them proud, dedicated to enterprises as excessive as they were useless. Then he realized that humanity needed a corrective ad he made us the gift of differences. So the masons, of different customs and faiths, have to find a modus vivendi that allows them to conclude their construction of the building. And for that you need not a conceded, flaunted tolerance, like the tolerance of the powerful, but an experienced tolerance, lived out every day, lived with the awareness that if it is lost, the house will fall down and you will be left without shelter.”

from Wu Ming, Altai (London: Verso, 2103), p.73.

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