By: Cody J. Elms
Remember in 2019 when you thought it couldn’t get any worse?
Remember when Iron-Man sacrificed himself, and you thought it couldn’t get any worse?
Remember when Australia was on fire, and you thought it couldn’t get any worse?
Remember after Kobe Bryant passed away, and you thought it couldn’t get any worse?
Remember the Impeachment, and you thought it couldn’t get any worse?
Remember COVID-19, ALL OF COVID-19, and you thought it couldn’t get any worse?
Remember the murder of a George Floyd, and you thought it couldn’t get any worse?
Remember the violence, looting, and riots that commandeered peaceful protest, and you thought it couldn’t get any worse?
A year ago, feels like a lifetime ago, and who the hell knows what a year from now will feel like, but one thing is for certain, the world is unpredictable, unstable, and uncontrollable. Just when we believe it can’t get worse, it gets worse. As of this writing, we are still several days away from even being halfway through this year. So, take a deep breath, tighten your belt, and saddle up, Part 2 of 2020 is bound to be a blockbuster.
In the spirit of movie titles (since there are no movies now), I would call the first half of the year 2020: A New Normal. This isn’t a random title however, but instead a nod to the constant reminder that, “This is the new normal now…We must embrace the new normal…The new normal of the world…”
Now when you hear that, if you become either instantly joyous or equally angry, you need to settle down a little bit, because the phrase is not what it seems. It is certainly not nearly as divisive as we try to make it out to be. For some reason as soon as someone utters those three words it causes nothing but dissension between people of opposing beliefs or views without hesitation. The new in that phrase is not really the problem, and yet it is where the focus tends to be. As a matter of fact, it may not even be relevant to the conversation. It’s the word normal that needs to be clarified.
I beg you, define normal. I promise you will not succeed. We have spent far too long and vast amounts of energy trying to be normal. Tirelessly trying to be something that we're not. Putting on a show to blend in to whatever depiction of normal we are around or accept as our own. Whether it is quiet and reserved, or flamboyant and loud. White or black. Christian or Muslim, normalcy is a facade. It's no more real than Superman or Cinderella. It is an accumulation of stories and expectations that have been tweaked throughout centuries to adhere to the climate of the time. Normal is self-created based off of your environment. Your variation of normal is no different than your political opinion or favorite football team. It's yours. You may share aspects of it with like-minded people, but never all of it. Normal in its entirety is not normal at all.
Normal is a fabrication created by people who want to generalize something or someone and ostracize those who do not fall in line with what their definition of how society or people should be. Normal is more of a scare tactic than it is a reality. Normal is impossible. Are you normal? Am I normal? What exactly is normal? Do you even want to be classified as normal?
Normal for me, in rural Pennsylvania with divorced parents, a son, two siblings close by, one sibling in Afghanistan, and a gaggle of nieces and nephews. It’s working five days a week. It’s enjoying time with my son and dog at Patriot Pines. It’s understanding that my son goes to his mother’s half the time. It’s understanding that life doesn’t work out how you plan, but that’s okay. It’s watching/listening to every Yankees game, and being disappointed every time I watch the Browns. Normal for me, is normal for me, not for you. My normal cannot be duplicated, replicated, or mimicked.
Normal for an African-American is not normal for me. Normal for a police officer is not normal for me. Normal for a soldier, a nurse, a pro-athlete, will never be normal for me. So, when they say, “A new normal,” who exactly are they referring to?
Is it wearing masks? Well nurses and doctors wear them every day. That’s not new to them.
Is it washing your hands and not touching every God forsaken thing you see? I feel like that should already be the practice, but it seems that’s part of this new normal as well.
As a matter of fact, almost every time I hear someone spout off this phrase, I can immediately disregard it. Almost…
What I do know is normal is hate. Hate has been, is, and by the looks of it will remain the normal. From the leaders of the world, to acquaintances on social media, hate is everywhere. It divides us. It makes us angry and jealous. It creates paranoia, fear, and anxiety. Hate, not love is why we lose the empathy and innocence we had as children. Hate has created a world of war that has existed long before I or you were born.
However, in the world of Newton, for every action in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction.
The equal and opposite reaction to hate is very obviously love, and yet, where is the love?
Love is quiet. Love is subtle. Love is not burning buildings down or screaming at people for taking a knee or not wearing a mask. Love is not BREAKING NEWS. Love will never be a headliner. It is not political, religions, or race based. Love is not what Wolf Blitzer or Sean Hannity want to talk about. Love doesn’t need them. It doesn’t need fame or future, spotlight or mobs.
Love needs you and I. It needs calm resilient people to come together for what is best for all of mankind. It needs pure hearts and unity.
When the sickness is gone, love will heal a wounded world. When the flames subside, love will rebuild broken communities. When the election is over, love will reconnect family and friends over time.
To me, normal is not just the world we live in, it’s the people who live in it. The world can change at the snap of a finger, but the people are the same whether in quarantine or protest. Those will hate, will hate. Those who will love, will love. That is the only normal we can all know, and there is nothing new about it.
Can things get worse? Absolutely. Will they get better? In time…yes. Just remember that 2020: A New Normal may already be wrapped up, but the sequel still has a script to write.