We like to think that we can make it on our own, and our success and failure is completely in our hands. A toaster begs to differ.
A Positive Attitude
It is definitely true that we are responsible for our own happiness and well being. If things aren’t going as they should, then we should do something to fix it. Thinking that other people will fix our problems is simply folly.
At the same time, thinking that we can improve ourselves and succeed without others is equally foolish. We are deeply interconnected, a truth underscored by a toaster.
He Who Smelt It
Designer Thomas Thawaites decided to conduct an experiment. He wanted to see how difficult it would be to make a toaster entirely from scratch. Not only would this mean assembling it, but building the parts and obtaining the raw materials which he narrowed down to steel, mica, plastic, copper, and nickel.
To see what it would take, he purchased the cheapest toaster he could find. When he took it apart, he found 400 parts made up of over 100 different materials. In order to complete the project, he would have to make a few concessions, such as using only those materials he specified.
The project was vast. For instance, to obtain the iron he found a shuttered iron mine, mined his own ore, smelted it, and proceeded to try to do similar processes with other minerals, shape them, and do all the necessary work of building the electrical components, chassis and moving parts. It wasn’t easy, and in the end, he ended up with this:
Our Need for Each Other
The Toast Project highlights our need for each other. Despite what we might want to believe, we are entirely, and almost irrevocably dependent on each other.
Even if we went to live in a secluded cabin in the woods and obtained our own food, wouldn’t we use tools and other gear someone else made? Or clothes someone else sewed? Or fabrics someone else stitched together? Or materials for all these someone else obtained?
We can try to hide from it, but the truth is we are connected. The more we embrace that, the better off we will be. Be kind to those around you. Be considerate to strangers. Accept help and give it freely.
We all need each other and the more we focus on making the world better for others, the more we make it better for ourselves.