In Praise of Normal

January 14, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Did you ever think you would miss those days when everything seemed so “normal” and you were kind of bored with them and thought it’d be great to see a little disruption to normal? Just stir things up a bit? Rattle a few cages?

What constitutes normal? Lots of people reckon their lives have stayed relatively normal because they still go to work every morning/afternoon/evening – whatever their shift is. Especially if they drive themselves, go to their regular place, do their regular jobs, they could pretend that things are not too out place for them.

Even, like many of us, people were already working from home, so, there was no particular disruption for them; they might see themselves as carrying on as usual. Nonsense, of course, all our lives are disrupted. From the moment when we agreed to our governments telling us where and when and how we would conduct our lives; from the instant when an official order could close down many aspects of commerce – order the cessation of the global economy – work, pleasure, travel, well, all business, that was the end of normal.

Here is what else is not normal: for a very few businesses to benefit from common disaster so hugely that their wealth has doubled or tripled through mere happenstance, by, for example, a massive increase in online shopping and home delivery, performed by workers who are treated like mediaeval serfs. Amazon.

Also, by a call for online communication, for which the demand has escalated to an heretofore unimaginable extend. Facebook.

Additionally, unusually and rather hard to explain is the rapidly growing demand for properties, now soaring in sales prices. Buildings, homes mostly, which would have sold only a few months ago for one unreasonably high price are now increasing in “value,” in a way that is mythic. Hundreds of thousands – millions of dollars for ordinary houses – where is the money coming from in these troubled times?

The oft run joke: “Two years ago, who’d believe that we might be having a party where someone was smoking weed and it was the party that was illegal?”

Normal is really gone when we cannot get together, hug, kiss, dance – laugh.

Yet, not only have parties come under the hammer of officialdom, they are dangerous. Not for the sake of brawls, knifings, all that but because the party-goers could get sick; could take it home and make other people sick; could kill off their granny.

This is all so weird that too many people are buying into it all being untrue. It is true: too bad. The numbers might be over – or  –understated but how could every doctor and nurse, every sick person, every grieving son, wife, friend be persuaded to join in a conspiracy that is absolutely worldwide?

I was going into a shop the other day and a woman was telling someone what she “recommended.” Nosey as ever, I asked her what she recommended.

“That we don’t wear masks,” she said. “they aren’t working.”

I opted not to argue with her but informed the owner of the store that she was there and he went out to tell her to leave. She was recommending exactly the opposite of what is needed and, more than that, she was recommending people force the shop owner to break the law and be fined or closed down.

Is this tyranny? Maybe. What are the options?

If we were wise and grown up, we would do our own research into COVID-19 and understand that it is a respiratory infection with a wide range of severity: from mild to life threatening.

Furthermore, we would acquaint ourselves with the science on prevention, namely: you’ve heard it lots of times: hand washing, distancing ourselves from others, especially while shopping, etc., and wearing a mask.

Sadly, this does work – if only we believed it. If only, we would all follow the procedures, thereby defeating the horrors, staying well, not killing off our grannies, we could get back to normal.

It’s funny, isn’t it, how we talk about “getting back” to normal. People have told me that we are changed forever, that things will never be the same, that we have to move forward but I don’t believe it, now I think about it, which worries me.

Don’t misunderstand: I love a party and I have really miss going to the theatre, but, as a species, we have very poor short-term memories. This past year or so – what is yet to come – will certainly feature big in the history books and economists will talk to their students about different approaches to planning on future and similar calamities.

However, disasters in the past didn’t change us fundamentally. We went on to make the same mistakes. We forgot the lessons of kindness that we learned, while in crisis-mode. We went back pretty easily to our wasteful, lazy, greedy ways as before and I greatly fear we will again.

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