The struggle is real. I have started several blog posts over the last few days and couldn’t finish any of them. That is not writer’s block, that is fighting to get to the real. It is the only way I can write, no matter how ridiculous and over the top a piece of my fiction might be, I can write as long as I know or at least sense the truth of the story. Same with non-fiction.
I am struggling with the truth of now, I will admit that I am. On TV commercials and podcasts and tweets and blogs and emails, I keep hearing and seeing the phrase “the new normal” being used, and it haunts me.
I know, I know, it is just a phrase and we have much bigger concerns these days. But words matter. How people think about the world matters, fuels how we act upon the world, and it drives the writing I do.
Accepting our current challenges as “the new normal” has ominous implications. To accept the loss of our old reality (you know, from a month ago) and embrace this situation as how life Will now be has that lambs to the slaughter feel from where I am standing. If we accept this as “normal” how much further are we willing to go? Entire schools wearing masks in class? Weddings and bar mitzvahs and quinceaneras and funerals with everyone is masked and maintaining social distancing? Movies and concerts where only every fourth seat is sold?
Even Blade Runner and Road Warrior offered cozier futures than that. I cannot buy into this as “the new normal” and refuse to go so gently into that weird night. But I also acknowledge the terrifying wisdom of horror author Brian Keene, who suggests that whatever is beyond this, our recent past is only memory now.
So, as the curve seems to finally be beginning to flatten in the New York/ New Jersey area, which could be a sign of hope for the rest of the country, we need to ask, what sort of future are we willing to consign ourselves to living?
Are we okay with masks as a part of our every day lives? If the answer is no, we need to fight this right now.
Are we willing to say goodbye to concerts and live shows and movie theatres? If not, we must stay home, especially this week.
Are we ready to accept rolling months of the virus returning to gift us with overpopulated morgues and overwhelmed hospitals? If not, then we all, and I do mean all, must take every precaution to protect ourselves and each other by following all directives on gloves and masks and quarantines.
Are we ready to accept as “the new normal” large scale fear of The Other on levels we thought we had ascended from decades ago? Are we ready to it hate each other again, to scape goat each other until our society crumbles? If not, then we need to accept the simple truths this pandemic has so plainly spelled out for us:
- We are one race, diversely expressed, but one unified race.
- We must listen when nature and science speak to us, and heed their message promptly, for the good of all.
- We must think, on a global scale, about long range cooperation that benefits all.
- Political strategies have for decades been prone to being petty and divisive; we need to rise above that limited, tribal thinking, especially when we all need each other so much.
- We are stronger, smarter, and more productive when we are helping each other than when we work against each other.
- Capitalism has its merits, but profit for its own sake blinds the individual from seeing the whole; just because we can profit from a situation doesn’t mean we should.
- Moral capitalism better serves the human race’s long term goals.
- Moral and charitable actions should always be about the goal or focus of the act, not about shining a light on those performing the actions.
- ”The new normal” suggests the way things will be for the foreseeable future, and we should refuse to accept this as that way.
- We, together, can create the “the new normal” we want but we need to agree upon and commit to what that should be, and staying home is a good first step toward that new normal, not the new normal itself.