Are you excited about 3D printing? I sure am. As I continue to peel back the layers of what is cultural integration and what is actually natural laws of being alive, I find so many absurdities among our current mindset. Why is it that a handful of people “own” the world’s oil supply that we all depend on to survive? They weren’t around 200 million years ago when all that stuff got made and, as far as I can tell, their maximum life span is 100 years, same as the rest of us. They are no more or less special than anyone else, except they have the arrogance to assume they can own a large chunk of a life sustaining planet on which they are only visitors. And now they are trying to buy the planet’s fresh water supply, too, with the absurd commodity called “money”, which may be the most useless object in the world, when you really think about it. Old, bacteria-ridden crumbled pieces of dirty cotton. Good luck trying to drink that!
But as long as this group of people remain powerful in our minds, they will remain powerful in the physical world, too. I certainly don’t see a way to overthrow this diseased system in my lifetime. Maybe in a couple of hundred years, when our minds are more evolved. If we live that long, of course, although I’m sure no matter what happens with climate change, some of our species will survive.
Welcome to the world of an environmentalist. It may look like a pretty bleak place to reside, but I actually find it the opposite. With the impending collapse (financial, societal, or environmental, or most likely, a combo) all but certain, it really frees your mind to think in radical new ways. Or old ways, as they were. Indigenous tribes all over the world have historically always considered themselves visitors in this world and the idea that man could own nature was absurd to them.
To own something is supposed to equal security. To firmly know, in the eyes of gods and men, that this piece belongs to me is really just another way to ward off the inevitable – death. To know that you have a safe place to farm, sleep and live must have been so reassuring to those living thousands of years ago. It increased the chance to live and procreate, and to see your children grow up. And the world was endless, with plenty of space for everyone to grow and multiply. The world is not like that anymore. The world is full and we designed systems of haves and have nots. This system is not a natural law, but we pretend it is because how else could we, the haves, sleep at night. When I was little and I asked my mom, “Why do people starve in Africa?” she told me what most parents tell their kids, “I don’t know. That’s just the way it is.” Well, I’m grown up now and I call bullshit.
So how does 3D printing figure into all of this? For the first 300 years of the industrial era, the means of production laid with the wealthy, the landowners. Now, for the first time in history, we might be able to separate the two. It’s not going to be easy by any means, because the people who benefit from a system will defend that system with all their might, but history has also shown that unjust systems tend to fall eventually. Just like Amazon (the retailer) was unthinkable 50 years ago, today you can choose between millions of products and have them delivered to you the next day; 3D printing will open a new world of possibilities for us. Soon, you won’t need to place an order with Amazon for your household goods and knickknacks, you can just print them in your own living room when the need arise.
You can 3D print a coffee cup. Or a unique dress.
Or a brand new, sustainable house!
As an artist, this excites me so much. Because I have made the conscious choice to love every item I bring into my house – it should just not be for purpose, it should also enhance my life somehow, with its beauty as well as functionality. But I’m still limited to what other designers design and produce. It’s only over the past few years that I have noticed what this does to my curiosity and desire to invent and beautify – I have replaced all that with blind acceptance as a consumer, like most of us do, consciously or not. Now that I have awoken the desire to create and invent, I am bursting over with energy to transform and make my space more beautiful. For the moment, it is sadly unmet due to lack of earthly funds, but luckily writing is free and my virtual space (this blog) is blooming. So that’s something. I don’t own very much in the earthly sphere but I live a life in which I feel free and creative. I don’t fear death because my life has been so full, and that, to me, is absolute freedom.
Which is why, I feel, in my case 3D printing would be wonderful because I would only create what I need to make my life even more sustainable. It would require less resources than the current system which employs a multitude of people to design, produce, ship and sell the items I buy, with only half the satisfaction of the end product. If we would be capable to do all of the above ourselves with full satisfaction, it would be a healthier alternative for us and the planet. Unfortunately, we live in a society that mentally equates hoarding material possessions and living happy, fulfilling lives, and until we resolve this handicap I fear 3D printing will just be another way for people to mindlessly consume our last, precious resources.
I know most of my readers have already consciously downsized and strive to live sustainable, full lives. What is your take on 3D printing?