The need to identify an enemy, an opponent, someone, or something to conquer is something that has banded people together over decades of conflict. That has come in the form of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina or Sandy. It has also come in moments of vulnerability and uncertainty during the attacks of 9/11 that saw people using their hands, digging through debris to save lives of people they’d never met. There is also a long list of wars that saw attraction by division. In all those instances people came together to help re-establish a life they considered normal before those events ever happened.
Identifying The Enemy
In the pursuit of normal, the recent pandemic wasn’t the enemy as much as was the fear of losing normal. It wasn’t an unexpected bomb on Pearl Harbor. It wasn’t a tornado that touched down in Tweed, Ontario on a random summer day. Depending on where you lived in the world, it was more like watching for a tsunami that you had enough warning was coming, that you had time to prepare for, and that would come in waves, each dividing people further, as they grasped for anything to keep them mentally and physically afloat. As the waves turned into a trickle, the world was left with sheep, libertards, cons, freedom convoys, conspiracies, remorse, regret, confusion, sorrow, entitlement, outrage, and war. Beyond those, broken social and health networks, friendships, and even divided families. That all sounds sad. While there are glimmers of hope, it isn’t how humanity has banded together in the past.
The world has now mostly returned to a perceived state of normal as the indicator for measuring stability in daily human behaviour. The desire to do things because “they’ve always been done that way”, has also been an underlying, perhaps subconscious, albeit flawed goal for the post-pandemic measure of success. After almost three years of altered work and life schedules, that pursuit of normal, comes with a cost indulged in ignorance, fuelled by negligence as lessons learned in environmental stability, health, mental health, and universal efficiencies are discarded in the interest of false perseverance.
The Road Back To Normal
The idea that “if I ignore the lump growing on my hand, it will go away” doesn’t seem logical, but if it’s the fastest way back to normal, it seems convincible. The road back to normal in Ontario, Canada is literally paving over parts of the greenbelt, a stretch of protected lands in the interest of saving a few seconds for commuters. Those commuters are back on the road heading back to work locations where they hop on Zoom calls so they can talk to their clients and peers who are working in some other location. If that’s not normal enough for you, the radio reports in the morning go something like this again, “The ramp to Jarvis has been closed. Traffic is backed up on the Gardiner Expressway. The Don Valley Parkway has only one lane open with a major accident being attended to. It’s gridlock, so leave yourself a lot of time to get to where you’re going.” The question remains, where are you going?
Typically, after a catastrophic event, lessons learned are implemented. Airlines implement new measures to avoid having their planes being hijacked and used as a weapon. Weather forecasting models are updated. Nations form unions for common interests. A home is built with hurricane ties to better ensure its durability. Breakpoints are erected so that large waves can be better contained. Codes are updated so fires can be better averted. You get the idea, right?
The Cost of Normal
If pollution data proved that reducing the number of cars on the road improved air quality, then why are we building more highways to put more people on the road? If mental health data demonstrated that changing routines so that people could work remotely and still be as or more efficient, then why are we putting people in a physical place of employment where they will use the same technology that they would at home to work with their colleagues, but are now working less because of their commute times? If health data tells us that overall physical health improved as people had more time to walk, run, and bike, while still being able to work and pick up the kids without worrying about paying $10 a minute fees for being late at daycare pickup, then why are they sitting in stand-still traffic burning fossil fuels at record profits for oil companies? If the cost of food has skyrocketed as grocers make record profits, why are we using those earned dollars burning that fuel in stand-still traffic, getting home late for dinner, missing the kid’s soccer game, and losing sleep at night over the chaos that was today?
Of course, it’s so that we could all get back to normal.
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