Like most children, my brother and I, were huge Lego enthusiasts. We had a large carton that was filled with blocks. We’d tip it over on the morning and build stuff with it till something else caught our fancy. But it usually wasn’t another toy that caught our fancy. No other toy could compare.

We could build whatever we wanted. Castles, cars, towers, spacecraft, boats. Then we could tear it all down and build it again.

We could play on our own, we could collaborate and build something together, or we could build things seperate and compete.

The pieces worked better when they were all from the same specification. The bigger blocks(Duplo) were easy to handle, had rounded edges and were made of softer material. But as we grew older, we moved to the smaller, classic Lego blocks.

The smaller blocks were harder, more durable and had sharper edges. They were relatively more difficult to pull apart. But it was worth it, because it let us get more creative and complex with the structures.

The game that we ended up playing the most, right before we stopped playing with them, was building car shaped structures and crash testing them against each other’s creations. That’s what boys do. We build and break stuff.

We quickly learnt how to make the most durable structures. You needed the large flat base upon which everything was anchored. You wanted a solid structure with no large empty, spaces inside. You needed the pieces to interlock with each other and between layers. We stopped playing when our designs for repetitive. There was nothing further to learn from that game. It got boring. Basically we got the Lego to mimic a rock.

Turns out, that there were more lessons to learn from that game. Even though I stopped playing it 40 years ago.

Societies are like those car shaped Lego creations that we built during our games. If they need to survive collisions with other societies, or with the walls of reality, they need to have a solid base, that links the structure together. It needs to be built in layers, but the layers need to interlock and support each other in all dimensions. Not just in 2D. A broken, malfunctioning piece will weaken the entire structure. It is in the interest of the continuation of that society to either eliminate that piece if it is irreparably damaged. Or if it is a minor piece , it’ll need to be shifted to a point in the structure where it doesn’t have to deal with the brunt of the collision. If it’s the base, that is destroyed, the structure stands no chance.

Since this is society we’re talking about, abandoning it, and moving to another one isn’t as easy as getting a new Lego set.

What is our society based on? Is our base damaged? If damaged, what are we going to do about it? Before discarding that base, however damaged it may be, do you have another perfect base set up? Has it been stress tested? This isn’t a game of Lego between two brothers. Sometimes even those games end in bloodshed and tears. Can you imagine the consequences when you scale up? Have you looked at history, when we played that game with society?

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