New but not Normal 560 words published on May 27, 2022.
I’ve been thinking about what is normal more and more over the last few years. Even moreso now, given the “new normal”, caused primarily by the pandemic. However, nothing about the situation we’re in is normal! Therefor, nothing about our response and attitude can be either. If we normalize how we operate in these times, we only invite more chaos and corruption.
But we must act.
We must hold onto the memories of what we want, and what we need, even if they’ve never been truly achieved.
- We need to feel safe
- We need to feel control over ourselves and the systems we depend on for survival
- We want happiness, love, and community
Our memories are fluid, albeit viscous and sticky. We can choose to daydream about the good… or the bad. We can cherry-pick the parts we want and conveniently ignore the fragments that cause us discomfort. This feature of our memory is a powerful tool, but like all tools, can be dangerous if used carelessly.
Sometimes you don’t realize how fucked up something is until you’re presented with abundantly clear evidence. I’m writing in the wake of a massive episode of disturbing gun violence here in the United States. We know that this has been on the rise for a while now, but it still takes mass shootings and dead children to even begin conversations. We truly don’t know what we’re doing. Stopgaps and thoughtful interventions are inoperable because policy makers are disconnected at best, or actively disinterested in solving the problems. Problems, to be clear, that are at the very root of our democratic institution.
How can we more forward, while we also hold onto the past? How can we make the needed changes to the way we live while we still hold up our treasured traditions and institutions? How do we avoid slipping backwards forever?
On the flip side, the same is true of the good things. You often don’t realize just how good the little things in life are. We miss just how far we’ve come and just how much better we can be. Nobody lives in the same world as their mothers and fathers, or if you look closely enough, even their neighbors and friends! We progress quietly until one day you wake up and realize you’re not the same person you were before.
We must be able to make our own decisions, yet still get along with each other. Tolerating the new quarks and ticks of society, while looking forward and dreaming of a better life for ourselves and our children. Personally, I’m sick of feeling so damn self-concious all the time. Worried what others will think, what others will do, what I’m allowed to do, and even what I should be able to do. Every action under constant, pervasive, deep surveillance; recorded and analysed by shadowy systems I have no control over.
I just remind myself, this is not normal. This is new, but it cannot be normal. How much longer it lasts is however quite unknown. Until lasting change can be enacted, we must resist the numbing horrific shock and chilling reality of today.
Onto better times, forever holding the best ideas higher. Strung and strum together late into the night, before rest calms. We find ourselves together once again in the gradual bright light of morning.