Why Are We Rushing to Get Back to Normal?
I was struck by this photo in the news today of a worker of the Berliner Ensemble repositioning the seating in their auditorium.
This, on the day that the government of Ontario (my province of origin and where I lived until I was in my 30s) announced they have to forcibly take control over five long-term care homes due to the horrific and shameful treatment of their residents. This, on the day that COVID-19 deaths in the United States finally surpassed 100,000. This, on a day when hundreds of thousands across the world are mourning the untimely, brutal death of Mr. George Floyd.
Why are we in such a rush to get back to “normal,” when people are dying of mistakes, poor treatment, lack of decent human compassion and conscientiousness?
Big jump here: How is it that being self-serving and self-righteous is so ingrained as to not care about the elderly, the dying, the vulnerable, or just each other in general?
Normal Never Was
I would wager that everyone is sick of hearing the phrase “new normal” (and we’re well beyond “unprecedented”). These things particularly bother me because I feel, as many do, that what was “normal” before should not have been. I don’t like to place “should”s on things, and I don’t do so lightly. I don’t believe in telling people how they should act or what they should do. It is neither my place to judge nor to mandate what people do.
But there are certain things that, as a society, just should happen – like basic common decency and compassion for all humans.
I’m not disparaging people wanting to get back to their regular activities and regular lives, per se. I, too, would love to go hear a symphony, lose myself and my troubles in the harmonies and the strings, and do so without worry of contracting a potentially fatal illness. I have absolutely no problem with businesses – people’s livelihoods – needing to open up and make money, so families can feed their children and pay for their necessities.
But what worries me is whether going ‘back to normal’ or making ‘new normal’ adjustments will perpetuate the kinds of incidents listed at the beginning of this post. I have heard calls from several people in the news and on social media for preventing us from going back to these kinds of normal, that we all learn to be more caring and compassionate, that we look after each other better.
Can we do it? Maybe then, things can be “normal.”