In his vanity a prideful prince decided to build a tower whose heights would reach into the heavens. So he gathered fully one third of the able-bodied men, women, and even children of his kingdom and set them to work.
The people of the kingdom, with the exception of a few who could be called the wise or the compassionate, were corrupted in the same way as their ruler. In their greed they preyed upon neighbouring kingdoms and were vain about their wealth.
Over the years the immense undertaking grew. The building of the tower required more and more workers, and resources of all kinds. From the remaining population, that were not labouring day and night on this extraordinary construction, the prince raised a mighty army and sent it out to conquer more lands so that those people might be enslaved to work on the tower and so that their riches should refill his coffers.
And so it went; stone was piled on stone, and effort was accumulated on effort. The tower rose to astounding heights; taking with it all the wealth, effort and suffering. It was like those times that the waters rise to heavens but do not return as rain. Those times when only drought descends on to the sad earth.
So the wise people gathered and they asked their spirits: “What unites these people?” And their spirits answered: “Their pride unites them.” Then they asked their spirits: “What divides these people?” And their spirits answered: “Their pride divides them.”
Then the wise ones, carefully calculating the consequences of their actions went among the builders labouring on the tower. And they said to them: “This tower which will be gazed on in awe and submission by all the nations requires its builders be seen in the same way. It is only fitting that the leaders be raised to the heights so all may see the merit they have earned and the lesser ones should struggle below so that they may earn merit and so ascend.
Immediately the people started to push and shove and fight for prominence. With the architects, engineers and other leaders far above the others could not hear their instructions. Soon they were all shouting and since no one could hear above the din all guidance was lost and chaos ensued. Contradictory and misunderstood orders brought rope to where mortar was needed and mortar to where scaffold was required. Ropes frayed against projecting walls that were meant to be smooth. Baskets, tipped over. Ladders slipped, bricks and mortar were misplaced and soon the tower itself, no longer rising straight as a pillar, began to teeter. The building however continued without rest, until finally with a foundation that no longer anchored it the swaying tower crashed to the ground dragging with it all who had guided the work from the heights.
Then the wise gathered once more. They said: “Let us find some way to make use of all this so at least some benefit should return to our people.” And so the bricks and tools that now lay scattered were gathered and the people worked on new projects: homes were built, aqueducts were extended, and granaries repaired. The people laboured at peace with themselves and in friendship with their neighbours.