GET-TOGETHERS with face shields on, no high-fives, hugs and kissing of hands is unearthly. Humans are not wired to be socially distanced and to starve. For a moment in history, the world shared the same simple mission: survive and adapt. The terrible human toll of the pandemic and the mounting economic damage brought clarity and urgency of purpose, thousands of people exploring new ways of working and operating their lives.
The language of a "new normal" is garrisoned almost as a way to quell any uncertainty ushered in by Covid-19. With no sure cure in sight, everyone from the government and media to friends and family has sustained this rhetoric as they imagine settling into life under this "new normal."
This framing is beguiling: it suggests that things will never be the same as they were before — so welcome to a new world order. With this frame of mind, we reimagine where we were previously relative to where we are now, making our present reboot as the standard.
But Pat, why make it such a big deal?
Because our personal and political response to the whole circus is predicated on the language we employ. It reinforces our understanding of the world and the manners in which we choose to address it.
Yes, our persistent discourse of the "new normal" helps put things in order in the middle of current turbulence, but it should not be the lens through which we see today’s plight.
At the end of the day, as the virus continues to sit with us, it gives us a chance to reimagine the world by tracing history, not forgetting it. Feeling unsettled, disturbed and isolated can help us empathize with people who have faced systematic exclusions, long-ignored by society even before the rise of coronavirus. Because for these people, things have never been "normal."
Stay active until our next chat!