I wonder if all of civilization could be dropped onto a finite set of floating stairs, of which at every moment there is an upward-leading step that is in a state of construction, and with the rather inconvenient caveat that all new construction material must come from that same staircase’s bottom step.

For some the primary debate would then be over how much time to give to society’s “stragglers”, those having the most difficulty ascending from that one bottom step before we make the decision to destroy it. And I for one would not envy the messenger tasked with notifying these folks, that their time – has – run – out.

For others, priority would center upon the reallocation of a few step engineers into the construction of noiseless headphones. Their hope would be to provide their fellows (and themselves) a reliable method with which to filter from their lives the screams of those who plummet.

Still others would boldly claim that there should be NO reason to do anything but wait. Wait then wait, for the entirety of civilization to advance at the very least to the second step from the bottom. Now, in a finite population some might agree that such an argument has merit. But inevitably, other types of others would point to the incoming babies and immigrants, just then parachuting onto this finite staircase. Occasionally, some might start to ask why they’re insisting upon coming here, without quite realizing that their arrival never was artificially planned or predicted. Gravity tends to draws in those who seek safety, like a mother’s embrace.

Tragically, one day, some unfortunate soul will parachute in, onto the bottom step, and accidentally “bump” another equally unfortunate soul off of the staircase. At this point, I could imagine nearby witnesses panicking briefly, then taking stock of their own position on the stair. Many of them will begin to look upward, to see who they might themselves displace in order to protect themself. The ones on the second step will look upwards themselves, and so and so forth, until finally I give up trying to make sense of the madness infecting our world these days, and go to bed.


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