Because I certainly don’t know
Everyone agrees – global pandemic falls into the “not normal” category. Dining outside, wearing masks, and elbow bumping departs from the regularly scheduled programming. Even lenient cities host dueling factions over current affairs, and more than ever, we struggle to understand those whose arguments we oppose.
So when we mention “going back” to “normal”, it’s this type of neck-crane that dilutes advancement. When we become laser-focused on replicating our past, we pass ample opportunities to tweak our future.
Instead, let’s “progress” to “better”
Mechanisms exist for us to be together, even when separate. While innovative togetherness is a relatively-new phenomenon, its creativity perked national intrigue. We have instituted Theatre, comedy shows on rooftops, reimagined fashion to cope with a climate revamp. Do these adjustments detract from our comfort of “normal”?
Heck no, they do not. Rather our persistence to endure expounds valor.
But how do we do this?
First comes empathy. Human loss is quantifiable, but impact is not. The virus and recent shootings deleted us prematurely. Trust, always wavering in response to leadership, crumbled in hefty swings. We feel infuriated and withdrawn. How can anyone do commit such destructive acts? What kind of people exist in this world?
No one acts in silos, least of all leaders. Grace may be too lenient, though delving into the systems that cajole and incentivize – at minimum – formulate a basis of why.
At our core, written into our psychology, we look after “our own”. Though, the definition of “our own” differs among who you ask. Do they share your last name? Or do they share a smile with you on the street? Do they help you change your tire on the side of a highway? That’s all us. That’s what we must fight for, the all-encompassment of us.
We must expand the concept of our family beyond the similarity of our genetic code. We must live as a human family.
Lengthen our Thanksgiving tables
Being immersed in an urban environment, I thrive on chance encounters. I’ve learned from private chefs, former NBA players, farmers, artists, bodega owners, dog walkers, drug afflicted, CFOs, the works.
What strikes me as common is that everyone is afraid of losing. In frenetic terror, we stack “what ifs” related to our families and livelihoods. It’s no coincidence that “broke” defines both someone without money and someone not whole. It’s also no coincidence that those who are “broke” are often without their nuclear family.
Our “return to normal” is to defend our fiefdom. Our “progress to better” could be to honor those who work hard and take risks yet still arrange a net of compassion to right those that stumble. The antidote to human destruction is concern, and we have the capacity to give that endlessly.
We can move from fear to warmth, and all it takes are more seats at our dinner table.