“20 Years of Defense, Erased by the Taliban in a Few Months”
Headline from the New York Times, 8/14/21

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Wow. This is disastrous. After twenty years of playing this game of Jenga, you single-handedly erased all of the meaningful progress we made by removing that last block from the tower and letting it collapse everywhere.

How could you allow this game of Jenga to end this way?

Just moments ago, everything was fine. Sure, some critics at this party—a party we started in 2001 thinking it would last about four hours but is still going to this day—claimed that it was a mistake to play Jenga in the first place. They argued that no matter how the game progressed, whether we played for five minutes or thirty minutes or two decades, the tower was going to eventually fall one way or the other.

But guess what? The tower hadn’t fallen a few minutes ago. Then what happened? You went and pulled a block out. And now? There are blocks all over the floor. So like, what the hell, man? Pretty high-profile blunder, if you ask me. Wanna explain yourself?

And don’t go trying to blame anyone else just because you got to the party seven months ago, and the guy who started this Jenga game dipped to some ranch in Texas twelve years ago! Say what you want about that guy, but when he left, this Jenga tower was still standing! (No need for us to discuss that other Jenga game he started in 2003.)

Sure, we’ve asked around, and over 70 percent of this party’s attendees have desperately expressed their desire for this game of Jenga to end. But just because they wanted it to end doesn’t mean they wanted it to end this way. Why couldn’t you have ended this Jenga game in a way where the blocks don’t fall everywhere? You should’ve set the Jenga blocks up to be self-sustainable!

Look at your predecessors—the people whose turn it was to play Jenga right before you. They handed you a standing tower! Of course, from the outside, it might’ve looked like they spent their whole turn just killing time… assessing the tower’s weaknesses… adding more blocks back onto the tower even though nobody wanted that… anything but taking responsibility for the endgame… but don’t be fooled. They had a plan. A plan that unfortunately had to be kept confidential for the safety of everyone at the party.

And yeah, the guy right before you promised to knock down the tower in May of 2021 anyway. But who thinks about him anymore?

Now, if you talk to historians—and yes, I invited some historians to this party—they claim that all kinds of people around the world have tried to play Jenga for as long as Jenga has existed, only to find themselves in an inescapable quagmire. They either have to keep wasting resources playing the game forever, or withdraw the last Jenga block and watch everything crumble.

But c’mon, man. It’s us. Doesn’t it feel like we’re better and smarter than those other people?

I know twenty years is a long time to play Jenga. But I really think if we had kept playing just a little longer (let’s say ten, fifteen more years) and spent a little more money on Jenga-playing drones (let’s say one, two trillion more dollars), we could’ve won. This game was a miserable failure despite twenty years and one trillion dollars of effort—why didn’t you think to try solving our problems with more time and money?

Anyway, don’t worry. We’ve had a round of Catan going for 400 years, and that’s not stopping anytime soon.