Build new dreams with questions

DREAMS are tarnishing at the speed of light – as soon as your dream hits the light of day, it seems a huge disappointment.

One nation created the world’s largest economy based on a dream – the American dream of the pursuit of happiness. Americans by the thousands are daily saying it, too, is tarnished.

The Center for a New American Dream (CEMA) has an active web site full of questions and answers from ordinary and not-so-ordinary folks in and out of the US about creating a new dream for a healthy sustainable America.

Being the largest economy and home to the largest number and size of multinationals, we must admit that where goes America, goes pressure on us to do likewise.

Not all of that pressure is bad news, as shown by the CEMA.

CEMA web stuff is certainly not coming from multi or transnationals but from people concerned that the pursuit of happiness somehow became the pursuit of materialism: he who has the most toys when he dies, wins.

The American dream of BMWs in every driveway, adorned with stickers saying I Luv Paris or My other car is a T-bird parked in front of the ‘three-storey mock Tudor 4brm 3bth wine/clr u/g pool helipad’ home only 1.5 hours on the freeway from the office where your six work day week begins at 7:30am and ends twelve hours later and you know you have a family by the photo on your desk…no longer adds up to happiness.

In spite of the Madison Avenue bombardment of youth cults, fashion cults and status cults – all based on the fear of not belonging, the question: “Belonging to what?” is being asked by babyboomer fathers who realise they have missed their kids’ childhood and the other foundations of happiness.

In addition, wonderwoman career-plus-home supermoms who, as the new class of married sole parents, rue the loss of husbands and fathers to the freeways and stress-machine jobs while trying to cope with their own job-home-family pressures.

CEMA has produced a set of seventy-six questions pertinent to anyone faced with a decision.

Although aimed at technology, these are real questions for all activities in business, government and community.

The nine categories of questions cover ecological, social, practical, moral, ethical, vocational, metaphysical, political, and aesthetic areas.

For example, when looking at making a decision about anything, ask: “Does it preserve or destroy biodiversity? How does it affect our perception of our needs? Where must it go when it’s broken or obsolete?

“Can we assume personal or communal responsibility for its effects? Does it reduce, deaden, or enhance human creativity?

“Does it reflect cyclical or linear thinking? Does it require a bureaucracy for its perpetuation? Is it ugly?”

Check out the other sixty-seven questions at The right dreams can happen.

• Ann Macbeth is a futurist and principal of Annimac Consultants.

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