A New Normal?
By Edith Morgan
We have a new year, a new President and Vice-president, a new vaccine or two (or maybe three, if the single-shot Johnson and Johnson pans out), and so many new businesses turning out the new protection products we are all grabbing up as fast as they are produced. I have a collection of masks, hand sanitizers and disposable gloves, and even travel kits to use on airplanes or busses.
There are so many ways to part us from our money – if they cannot get it at restaurants, theaters, museums and other venues where we used to gather together, then the enterprising have found ways to supply us with substitutes at a nice high profit and to reshape our needs and tastes to meet their new supplies. Being incessant consumers has been normal for some time: all that is different is what we consume, when, and at what price.
So, in 2021, what will be the new “normal” – and when?
If “normal” means a return to some past time, which time period do we pick? If you’re my age (90), maybe you are looking back to the rather quiet times of the Eisenhower years. If you are an activist, the “sixties” with all their upheavals, protests, marches and projected changes that somehow always seem to get partially lost as something else, newer and hotter, comes along may be your pick.
The one thing that always seems certain is that there will be some kind of change, largely brought about by technology, that grabs us more and more rapidly, leaving us constantly scrambling to keep up to date.
Politics has changed, too: big money, which has always played a large role in America, now is almost in charge. I am constantly bombarded with requests for money – though I never quite know how it will be used, and by whom. And the requests for my opinions and the surveys now are always accompanied by requests for donations. And, above all, the constant “hair-on-fire” pleas for help, describing the opposition in colorful emotional terms fill my e-mail box daily – as well as my mailbox.
So, is “normal” to be a return to the lying, lawlessness of the past four Trump years? The lack of shared values, the lack of cooperation, the vengefulness of our justice system? Or will the new normal be a shared belief in the values we profess to hold, in moderating our language, taking responsibility for what comes out of our mouths, and in feeling responsible for sharing with those who have the least, not just in the glow of the Christmas season but all year long?
And will we finally realize that learning and education are not the same! And that our children learn all the time, from everything around them, not merely in a brick-and-mortar building …
And, finally, will we expect our leaders to be concerned about us, who elect and pay them – rather than accumulating wealth and power and holding on to it?
I hope, while in our bubbles during the global pandemic, we have at least learned that there is a dangerous form of insanity which can be quite charming but very destructive. So as we rebuild, let us be more forgiving of those who merely err, not be taken in by the con men and hacks …
We were not “normal” before the pandemic, but we could be a new kind of normal soon, when the vaccine is ubiquitous. Until then, wear your facial masks – wash your hands – disinfect, and keep your distance, Save your hugs for later!