Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

Toppling the Towers: Destroying is Easier Than Building


Several years ago, I babysat for a couple of toddlers who sported contrasting temperaments. One was methodical and liked to build tall towers with blocks. The other had a flamboyant personality and liked nothing better than to knock her older brother’s towers down. Of course, she didn’t yet have the coordination to build a tall tower herself, so having the power to make all those blocks topple felt like an accomplishment. Her brother was furious since he couldn’t understand that an inability to build encourages a jealous urge to destroy.

Since then, I’ve had occasion to witness other examples of people who don’t know how to create, wanting to begin by tearing apart what has been. When Middle Eastern antiquities were methodically smashed by extremists who assumed that their present was the only important time in history—even though they had no art or culture to offer in replacement—archeologists around the world mourned. Smashing the past doesn’t improve the future. The loss of previous knowledge—such as the several burnings of the ancient Royal Library at Alexandria, Egypt—simply dooms those people who are left. They (and we) end up wallowing in darkness for many years, struggling to reinvent all that had been before—not always in better ways. For example, we still don’t know how the “primitive” peoples of Gobekli Tepe (a 12,000 year old marvel of building expertise) managed to do the deed.

Sometimes, people want to destroy what has been (without having a good replacement in hand) out of spite—hoping to erase the memory that someone else was more capable. But do people forget leaders who were truly great? Did they bury the name of Socrates after he was executed? Did we lose interest in the true builders of the pyramids simply because the names of the rulers and architects were chiseled off the walls? We’re still fascinated by Nefertiti, but who remembers the ones with the chisels?

I recall a time when my mother ordered me to clean the bedroom I shared with my two younger siblings. I seethed. How could she expect me to clean a mess I didn’t create? The injustice of it all! I raked the scattered toys from the bottom of the closet into a huge, intimidating pile in the center of the room. NO ONE could sort that mess. Surely my mother would understand that she had asked the unreasonable. She didn’t. She sent me back to the room to complete my assignment. In my resentment, I took my little sister’s paper dolls and folded their cardboard bodies into tiny, unusable squares. My sister cried. My mother gave her my paper dolls to compensate. Spite doesn’t clean bedrooms.

Cooperation and respect create better products. Therein lies the reason women make good group leaders. Research has established that groups that tolerate diversity and work through dissent create superior conclusions. As the old White House administration and its institutions are supposedly erased from American history by people who hold them in contempt, who will bear the blame if the consequences are bad? Who will know how to build healthy, prosperous replacements for the old programs when the need becomes inescapable? Whose truths will survive?

2 comments on “Toppling the Towers: Destroying is Easier Than Building

  1. Reba Whiles
    January 30, 2017

    Very good reading! As a history buff and an artist, I am deeply saddened by such destruction of artifacts.

    • Personal Journeys with Gramma
      February 13, 2017

      I’m with you, Reba. It seems like we waste so much time reinventing and forgetting what should never have been forgotten.

Leave a Reply

Follow This Blog via Email

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 324 other subscribers