Friday, July 22, 2011


When men and women come together to build something, it can be a glorious thing. As you can guess from the title of this post, I can't help but liken the compound to the tower of Babel. If you don't know the story, a brief synopsis: after the great flood, humanity came together in a single place and spoke a single language. People lived and worked together in harmony toward common goals and needs.

God didn't like that, so he came on down and scattered them to the four corners of the Earth and confused their languages. There was no reason given for this--God simply did a thing, and the parable is meant to give origin to the diversity of human language.

I'm not one to blame unseen powers that be, but I can't help seeing the parallels between what we've tried to do here and the eventual fate of Babel.

As I type these words, men and women are slaving over deer and other kills, trimming every scrap for the stewpots, though we are saving some choice bits for our pets. A few people suggested eating the compound's dogs and cats, even my ferrets. I argued hard on that one: the cats keep vermin down to a minimum, my ferrets keep my garden and Pat's free of bugs.

The dogs are coming in handier than we'd have thought. So many of us are weak from hunger that it's becoming difficult to man sentry posts and guard rotations. The solution was simple, and another of Will's many ideas. So now we have dogs trotting along the walkways on the walls. They bark like mad when they see zombies getting close, and the zombies go nuts when they hear dogs barking so close to them. It must be reptile-brain instinct. One of the dogs jumped off the wall and even went after a few of the undead, and they ran like scared little bitches instead of trying to kill the pup.

All of that is nice, but no matter how much I might wish it, there's no distracting from the hard truth that the compound as a community is falling to pieces. All the recent troubles might not have savaged us so badly if we hadn't been made weak by hunger. It's damn hard to concentrate when your stomach feels like it's eating itself all the time.

I don't know if some of our social issues would have been easier to manage, even salvageable, if we weren't going hungry all the time. It's possible. Brings to mind the old saying that any civilization is only a few missed meals away from barbarism. We're not quite to that point yet, but it's getting harder to muster people to do anything other than hunt.

We've even expended the last of our bullets. Jess brought down several animals this morning, but now that she's used up the last few bullets for her rifle she's down to archery like the rest of us.

There are more people talking about leaving, but no one seems to have definitive plans other than the folks from Tennessee. I don't know how any of them are going to manage without food to eat on the road, and we have nothing left over. Nothing at all.

Not everything is awful, though. I've been in touch with North Jackson off and on over the last few days. Their soldiers returned home without incident, and they're talking about sending a caravan out to meet our friends from out west who are gathering a shipment of food for us.

It's good to know that even as the social order here at home unravels, others are taking up the challenge of being leaders. Of being unified.

They're good people.

I've been using my free time, of which I have a lot now that basic social order has broken down (there has to be a silver lining to that, doesn't there?), by working on the abandoned project I started when the zombie plague began to fence in the block my house is on. It's not all that much work, since we got about half of it done before we started in on the big wall. The rest of my block is open, and Pat and I have been bringing in pieces of debris from the destruction going on over in the annex to make a wall. It's just another safeguard in case the main wall is breached. A fallback point, if we need it.

I don't know if there will be enough usable materials from the annex to finish it. My brother is pretty thorough with his demolition, but Dave knows we want the raw materials, so maybe he'll actually tamp down the urge to break everything and come through for us.

I have to build. I have to accomplish something. If not, if I waste the little energy I gather from the small portions of food I get by sitting around and moping, then I've lost. I might as well open up my wrists. I'm not blaming the folks that can't muster the strength to do much else but breathe--this is a personal thing, and I'm only talking about myself. I can't stay idle. Even if I fall over and die from the insane heat outside right now, it'll be worth it. Because I know that I'd done something right up until that last second.

For me, the way things are right now, that would be enough to set my soul at ease.


  1. in Babel,they were building the tower to elevate themselves above God, that's why He did it. There was a reason.

  2. The stories about Babel use that as the reason for god scattering them, but the actual text says nothing about the intent of the builders, other than their desire to build a tower to reach the heavens. See, it's all right here:

    1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. 4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children built. 6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

    So, the way I'm reading this, they built a tower so they wouldn't be scattered across the earth, and god went down, saw what they accomplished, and scattered them anyway. I'm not making a moral judgment against god here--in the context of the story, he's the creator of everything. That basically gives him carte blanche to do as he pleases. I'm just saying the text itself does not support, in any way, that the intent of the builders was to set themselves above god.