Think Tank #7 – Opportunity: Notes from Subtopic: Is opportunity outside one’s control? by kristinmarting
February 8, 2011, 3:18 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Opportunity as something you have control of vs. opportunity as chance/luck

“You can be a prodigy too.”

-From an Amy Tan short story “Two Kinds,” about a Chinese woman who puts an enormous amount of pressure on her American born daughter and says “You can be a prodigy too.”  Can you become a prodigy?  Prodigy is inherent.

-From a young age, we are fed unrealistic messages.  “You can be anything.”  This is at the root of the American Dream.

-“You can be anything” has positive and negative implications/is misleading if not put into proper context

-Can be used as positive reinforcement, but if you can be anything, you can be also be a failure.

-If you don’t reach the ideal, it can impose a feeling of failure.

-Groups of people inherently need mythology; goals to feed to individuals in order to accomplish the goals of the community

-Obama using the term “Sputnik moment,” telling Americans to seize the reins and go after these achievable dreams.

-Only a certain number of people will achieve these dreams, so how do you encourage/inspire these people?  By sustaining this idea of achievable success that is available to anyone who wants it.

-On an individual level, there are more broken dreams than fulfilled dreams

-You have just as much an opportunity to fail as an opportunity to succeed

-If you work hard enough, study hard enough, overcome rejection, you too can be a prodigy.

-Prodigy stems from prodigious, meaning that to be a prodigy you have to work a lot.  This conflicts with the concept of prodigy as something you are born into.

-America places so much importance on opportunity because we value success, and that success depends largely on financial standing

-China is growing/succeeding as a country because there is a system in place that pushes this monocultural, national identity

-Realistic dreams/practicality: do they lead to more opportunities?

-Opportunity is elusive: You have to be able to recognize an opportunity, you have to know when to stop and explore something more deeply

-You have to be educated on some level/have to have time for trial and error in order to recognize/create opportunities

-Artists perpetuate the idea that opportunity is something that is more concrete/systematic outside of the arts world

-Opportunity is not always career oriented; the opportunity to fall in love and raise an opportunity

-Opportunity is not always money oriented

-Opportunity is relative; it is based on what you value

-Back in the frontier days, opportunity was out west, in the unknown

-Opportunity was out west for people who had less; they could discover opportunity at the frontier, the outer reaches of human experience vs. a city where there was already an establishment

-Opportunity for the people moving out West was really the genocide of the Native American population.  The narrative of opportunity is really a one sided narrative that leaves the Other out of the conversation.

-Genocide/slavery can only be done as a dominant narrative that codifies injustice into our legal system/rationale as a nation

-You always have to step on someone else’s toes to seize an opportunity

-There are just as many missed opportunities as seized opportunities; when you seize an opportunity, you miss the other opportunity

-Is one of the aspects of opportunity how tenuous it is?

-People commit atrocities out of fear that if they don’t, atrocities will be committed to them.

-Fear is mostly driven by culture; not all cultures are fearful

-Opportunity as relative to previous conditions: immigrants that are making more money than they would in their home country working horrible conditions in America

-The idea of what financial success is has increased on an exponential level in the last forty years.  It has become so much harder to achieve because of that.

-In South Africa the bank started a lottery savings account system.  Everyone would put their money into a savings account and then someone from that lottery group would win the savings.

-Why do so many people play the lottery when in essence there is a sure bet that you will never get anything back?  People like the chance, the idea that anything is possible.


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