One of these days, our new normal will be something we feel comfortable with, but right now, it feels neither new nor normal.
We’ve had pandemics before, not recently, but that’s not new.
We’ve had government mismanagement of significant issues before, and often, so that’s not new.
We’ve had disasters requiring us to pull together to help communities after local disasters (floods, tornados, wildfires) or reaching out to help or fund recovery from massive disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, nuclear plant disasters).
That’s not normal, but it’s not new.
We’ve learned to be collectively afraid.
That’s not new – we’ve been afraid before (i.e., the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and New Coke).
What we have is both old and new, both normal and abnormal.
We protect ourselves best by staying apart; we are safest far away from a hospital.
We have the most robust media and government information systems we’ve ever had, and we trust them less and less every day.
Too many leaders aren’t leading as much as they are misleading; countries with the most significant problems and greatest risks have leaders playing politics and distorting risk to protect industries, markets, poll numbers, and lastly, their citizens.
Doctors and scientists speaking out are gaining traction over the dis-information mongers in totalitarian states where we are learning about the suppression of information, the jailing and/or killing of potential whistleblowers. The burial trenches being dug in Tehran, for instance, bore no resemblance to their published death toll, high as it was, so we’ve learned to trust less of what we hear from sources whose information lacks credibility. Like Trump? Yes, but also like North Korea, Russia, and others of questionable integrity whose numbers are suspect.
This is not new – we get misinformation and misdirection from government leaders all the time.
Fear is not new, because we have gotten so used to risk, risky behavior, and watch buffoons and demagogues fill our airwaves and inboxes with will misrepresentations of reality.
Nothing is official, nothing is new, nothing is normal.
We are not self-isolating only from sick people, we are self-isolating everyone from everyone – especially those we need and want to be around. We are social creatures, we are inter-dependent. How we find a way to bridge that divide will be new, and that will be our new normal for a long time.
What scares me is Africa. And South America too. The ratio of population to doctors, the sanitation issues, and the inability to communicate with populations is likely to be scariest of all if what we are being told by our governments, the W.H.O., and medical experts is remotely accurate.
Most people alive today didn’t experience WWII, the polio epidemic, the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the rise of communism in China, or the fall of it in Russia – and those in charge of our countries who do have this knowledge have short memories. That is not new, and sadly, that is normal.
One of these days, we’ll have abundant good news, but for now, we’ll have to live through a period with only variations of lousy news, dished out in degrees of severity…