Fog Enveloping Deception Pass Bridge, Whidbey Island — Adobe Stock


What doesn’t kill us

Stephen Bau
5 min readAug 14, 2019


We are 70 percent water, depending on our age.

Water is the source of life. It can also kill us in a myriad ways. For example, a large body of water accelerating toward a human being at 9.8m/s² can inflict serious physical damage.

On the Deception Pass Bridge spanning the distance between the continental United States and Whidbey Island, a bicycle leaned against the railing. In the fog, 180 feet below, there was a splash in the water.

Photo by Joel Swick on Unsplash

The islands of Hong Kong are separated from the mainland of China by a thin ribbon of the South China Sea. Water made the difference between democracy and communism. It was the British lease on the land that had made the difference, in fact. The city state was a British military outpost that became one of the primary economic powerhouses of Asia and the envy of Beijing.

Envy turned into the sincerest form of flattery. Beijing learned everything it could about economic prosperity and stability. Now, the democratic activists of Hong Kong filled the streets and occupied the airport to protest the incursion of authoritarian state power on the city state. Beijing lined up their forces along the border in Shenzhen. State capitalism is flexing its muscles, and there are few who are willing to face the threat of violent opposition to resist the typhoon mounting its assault upon the population.

Max Weber has famously defined the state as a political community or human community where an ensemble of actors have a monopoly over the use of force. However, we all know that no state can rule for any length of time exclusively by force. There have to means by which to persuade people to actively consent to the form of rule that exists. Antonio Gramsci calls this hegemony.

I had just been listening to a podcast called 2038, exploring what the world could look like in 20 years. It was…



Stephen Bau

Designer, educator, social architect, founder, Builders Collective. We are exploring how we imagine, design, and build the future together.