The Flip Side of Paradise
He wanted people to like his mind again - after a while it might be such a nice place in which to live.

F. Scott Fitzgerald in "This Side of Paradise" gave us that gem.

Many of us would like to say that about our country, our neighborhoods, our community services. We long for a "nice place to live". Instead we are faced with a transportation system in cardiac arrest - all arteries are clogged. With an atmosphere of high-wire tensions - does anyone trust anybody any more? With a bombardment of input, data, information (wanted or not). With robo calls, email blasts, demands for change and challenges to stability.

There have been other periods in history where change seemed overwhelming. Think of the invention of the printing press, the coming of the railroads, the advent of the light bulb. Those were all unsettling times as well. Why are we so much more anxious today?

Perhaps at no other time have the challenges appeared so daunting. We now have the capability of blowing ourselves up, and the rest of the world with us. We seem to be hell-bent on exhausting the resources of the planet - fish, water, trees may well become extinct along with ourselves. The demands for constant relearning are relentless - is it really necessary to upgrade, revamp, transform and reformulate constantly?

And what if, in spite of all efforts, we ourselves become obsolete as the machines we have created are creating havoc with our daily lives? Isn't there an alternative to the Corporation as a cooperative enterprise? As it stands corporations seem to be toxic entities that squash individual initiative, reward mindless obedience, and squeeze out any possible joy in living.

Cultures are clashing, religions are warring, politicians can't seem to agree on any reasonable course of action. Where is the sanity?

Could we start with small sanities, instead of looking for massive solutions? It doesn't hurt to tell someone how pretty or handsome they look today. It doesn't hurt to hug, to smile, to touch a shoulder. To help someone cross a busy street, to make someone feel that they have touched your life in a kind way, to stop the hustle and remember to breathe slowly. When did you last listen closely to the wealth of birdsongs in your neighborhood? Forego a sporting event to talk quietly with your family? Visit a relative or friend not because of a special occasion but simply to say 'you matter to me'.

We can listen to the heart of a four-year-old. Adam visited my studio, and said, "You can't send these paintings out to show. I would miss them too much." We can pick up the phone and hear two-year-old Natalie say, "I love you Chickamunga".

We can do this if we try. We can make our small corner of the world a corner of shared intimacy. It might even be catching. It might make the butterfly of caring flap its wings across the oceans of disregard.

I will try. How about you?

c. Corinne Whitaker 2015

NB: for an instant injection of hope, visit our 3D Print News page. Humans really are coming up with some incredible discoveries. Now if we can only tame our less noble sentiments...