The magnetic house of cards is a rather terrifying idea that has occupied my mind lately. It’s a metaphor, used to describe life today in America and much of the world.
Imagine living in a small, primitive village. A tribe. You are a tight knit group, maybe just a family or two. You hunt and gather your food. You move with the seasons, and abide by the weather. You develop skills and acquire knowledge that's relevant to your survival, such as what plants are poisonous and what animals are dangerous. Living in this way is like one card, lying on the ground. It’s stable, and not very likely to change. A civilization can happily survive like this for many years.
Then comes the Egyptian empire, the Greek empire, the Roman empire, even the Mayan and the Incan empires here in the Americas. They build a house of cards several stories high. They develop farming techniques that enable them to produce food surplus. Now, one person can make enough food for two people. Without the burden of finding food, the second person can apply themselves to creating a better structure, or better clothing, or even to entertainment, and thus a great civilization emerges. Yet, sooner or later, a gust of wind moves in and the house of cards falls to the ground.
Now, imagine if you took your cards and put some metal coating on the top and bottom. You hook them up to a device so that you can flip a switch, and the cards will become magnetized. They stick to each other inseparably, and all of the sudden, you can build your house of cards up and up and up. It’s incredibly tall, and incredibly stable. At least as long as no one turns off the switch. That's where we are currently living, in a humongous, magnetic house of cards. And it’s terrifying.