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"A Raisin in the Sun" by Lorraine Hansberry is about living the "American Dream". Hansberry wrote her story in 1959. The "American Dream" that she describes and the one that currently exists are vastly different. In 1959, the dream was to work hard and live a comfortable life. American’s believed that you would live a good life as long as you had your family and had food on the table. Let’s fast forward to 2003. The "American Dream" is to have two cars, a glamorous house, a pool, a 40 hour a week job, and oodles of "stuff". I define stuff as material possessions such as DVD’s, video games, and TV’s. When did the dream go from being happy to having tons of material possessions?
I am devising a tipping point strategy to change the "American Dream" back to having a close relationship with your family, working hard, and being happy. By changing the dream, Americans will be happier and have less stress in their life.
The new "American Dream" is strongly engraved into the minds of society. It will be difficult to "tip" back the other way. The change will not happen suddenly. It can only happen slowly, and over a long period of time. The change from Hansberry’s dream and the current dream also took years to change. The Law of the Few plays a huge role in changing the dream. To tip the dream in the better direction, some people that are influential in society need to adopt this dream as their own. If a man as successful as Bill Gates decided that he wanted a more laid back, it would do a great deal to attract others to do so as well. In retrospect, if I adopted this dream, no one would care. Bill Gates is considered a connector in our society. He has done much to improve our technology. That is why he would be more likely to cause a "social epidemic" than I would.
The second factor that would have to be dealt with in changing the "American Dream" is the stickiness factor. Let’s use Bill Gates as the example again. If he went on TV proclaiming that he was a billionaire, no one would listen. Even if they did listen, they would not remember. If Gates went on TV and said he was only going to work part time and he was going to give most of his money to charity, people would listen.
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The final way to change the "American Dream" is by the power of context. I led into this in the previous paragraph. In Malcom Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, he talks about A Rebecca Wells book called The Ya Ya Sisterhood and how it became a best seller. The power of context may be the most powerful tool in creating a social epidemic. The Ya Ya Sisterhood was popular because people could easily relate to it. Everyone can relate to the problems of a busy lifestyle. The majority of Americans live such a fast paced lifestyle that they miss out on the joys of relaxing with their family. When society sees how happy Gates becomes by reducing his daily activities, they will also desire to have this lifestyle. They will cut back on their activities and spend more time with their family. Not just any idea is going to stay in societies mind; it has to be something people can relate to. Everyone can relate to being too busy and too rushed. The Power of Context is all about how people relate to your idea. This is how it would be possible to change the "American Dream".
There are a few things that could really help this idea. They are: people would have more time to relax with this idea, they would be happier, and they would have more time for their family. The negative factors that could affect this idea are: people would have less money, few material possessions, and fewer luxuries.
At the current time, Americans live a fast past life style and it will continue to get worse if nothing is done about it. An ideal situation is to have Americans work less and spend more time at home. There are consequences to changing to this lifestyle. If Americans don’t work as much, they will have a harder time paying the bills. If they do less extracurricular activities, they will have more time to spend at home and relax. They are some negative forces to changing the "American Dream," but the benefits are greater than the consequences.
This change of the "American Dream" would tremendously benefit our society. It would take time to change it. I predict that it would take anywhere from 10-20 years. The current "American Dream" did not come about overnight. It will take time to change.