Rethinking Normal

Hi, how are you today? 

With so many things going on, that’s a complex question. We’ve made it to the end of May 2020, and the full impact of the novel coronavirus has yet to be seen. States have been effectively closed for two months. We have people protesting the shutdown and business people and politicians ready to get back to “normal.”

Many states are buckling under the pressure and opening despite the risk. Even Illinois, which has been very careful, eased restrictions as of Friday, May 29. I know people are hurting. I know that businesses are struggling. But opening prematurely is not the answer.

Opening prematurely is a function of this culture’s addiction to consumption. Simply put, opening prematurely serves greed and nothing else. It is nothing more than trading dollars and profitability for the lives of precious people. Many are working-class and cannot afford to take time off to keep themselves safe. This pandemic has revealed so many of the weaknesses our society and the rampant greed is one of the worst.

Instead of rushing back to preserve the status quo, I argue that we should redefine the status quo. What we had before COVID-19 was not normal. It is not normal to rush from place to place with no opportunity for stillness. It is not normal to consume mindlessly more and more and more. It is not normal to oppress the poor and powerless for the benefit of the rich. It is not normal to put money and possessions above everything else. We’ve just been conditioned to believe that it is.

It’s time to reclaim our minds. It’s time to reclaim our lives. It’s time to reclaim our society. Yes, we need to flood the polls in November. But the reboot needs to start long before that. The first step is to reclaim your power. Some are protesting in the streets — and that is a good thing. Do what’s best for you and your family. 

The retailers would love for us all to flood the stores as soon as we get the chance. They may require masks, but that doesn’t mean they care about you or your safety. Make no mistake, they want your dollars to promote a status quo that is designed to keep you poor and numbed out  instead of taking a stand for a better future. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is a plague from the depths of hell. I am not thankful it. Instead, I mourn the lives that had been lost and my heart  breaks for those that have buried loved ones. This is not a game. However, I recognize the unique opportunity this experience has provided for everyone to pause and reflect. I think that rushing back to what we have been told is normal would squander this opportunity. 

Instead of following the program presented to us by the retailers and the society, consciously think about what you’d like to prefer. Pursuing a simpler lifestyle serves to this in two ways. First, accumulating less and spending less will allow you to save and send the message that we are in control. They may call, but we will not come. It’s time we choose ourselves instead of their false pleasures. 

I cannot tell how many hours I’ve spent in the malls looking for things that don’t satisfy. This pandemic and the resulting shelter-in-place order has given me a chance to reflect and decide what I want instead of defaulting to what society tells me I should want. I plan to make better choices going forward. I will not be rushing out to various establishments to get my nails done, get my hair cut, or to buy goods. I will put time and resources toward things that will help me to establish a new normal. It will be painful, but this is what our world needs.  

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