The New Normal Awakens Us to Each Other

Normal seems to slip away

Are you adjusting to a new normal way of life during the Covid-19 pandemic? Will you adjust to a different “normal” when it gets under control?

051820 New Normal

There’s no question that the world is shifting habits and routines along with values and perspectives in our day-to-day lives. Some of us move around a lot less, for example. Face masks are ubiquitous and hand-washing has almost become a habit.

The new normal, in the sense of what can be expected on a daily basis, doesn’t feel normal yet. Life is strange. Relationships morph into critical connections as we prize a phone call, text, email, or other social contact like we’ve not done before. What will the new normal look like in months ahead?

Normal may be upended

Kenneth Rapoza’s Forbes report of “Three Thing To Expect in The ‘New Normal’ Post-Pandemic” provides some sweeping predictions:

  • A survey released Monday by McKinsey & Company suggests Americans will remain financially conservative in the new normal. They expect to reduce spending on discretionary items.
  • There may be serious considerations given to diversifying supply chains and bolstering online service capabilities …
  • Glenmede [Wealth Management Firm] thinks labor markets will be increasingly skeptical of working for small businesses.

Gideon Lichfield, in a March (seems so long ago already) article in Technology Review, “We’re not going back to normal” provides a bit of a wake-up call:

The world has changed many times, and it is changing again. All of us will have to adapt to a new way of living, working, and forging relationships. But as with all change, there will be some who lose more than most, and they will be the ones who have lost far too much already. The best we can hope for is that the depth of this crisis will finally force countries—the US, in particular—to fix the yawning social inequities that make large swaths of their populations so intensely vulnerable.

Ray Sanchez of CNN reports in his article, “America’s ‘new normal’ will be anything but ordinary” of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine saying, until a vaccine is developed, that:

Things are just going to be different, And that’s the sad truth.

The new normal will require separation

Sporting events will be different as adaptations evolve. Entertainment, as we have witnessed already via Zoom performances, will catch our attention in new ways. Travel will be limited, changed, and be more purposeful. Even eating in restaurants will adjust to a new demand that separates us to keep us safe.

Our own Unitarian Universalist congregation, taking its rightful guidance from the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), will no longer meet together for the coming 12 months. We will have to connect with each other in new and creative ways to support our spiritual practices. It won’t be easy.

The new normal reminds us to respect each other

As I look for a silver lining in all of this (there usually is one), it seems to me there is a newfound emphasis on the value of “us”. We are reminded that we need each other and we (yes, it’s true) care for each other. We even care for those who don’t always agree with us. Those cantankerous “others” remain our friends, our neighbors, our relatives. They remain important to us – we’re reminded of that.

In two dozen weeks (yes, it’s that close), we will be voting for a president. In that span of time, in the midst of this “new normal”, we will endure more political rancor and more reason to distrust, disbelieve, and separate than we usually do during such campaigns.

Everyone’s vote deserves to matter

Here are two questions that persist:

Which citizens do you think should not be able to vote?
Which citizens do not deserve to be heard?

Realizing that we are in the midst of a global experience that reminds us of how human we are, how dependent and interdependent we are, who among us should be left out? Which United States citizen’s voting voice should be ignored, left behind, and not be represented?

I hope anyone reading this is willing to reply, “Nobody!”

Know this: Around 46% of the ballots to be cast for the 2020 presidential election will suffer the malaise I just described. That equated to over 63 million votes in 2016! They will be ignored and left behind as their ballots fail to gain representation in the Electoral College. This will occur because of the Winner-Takes-All (WTA) problem we suffer in every presidential election.

The new normal reminds us of our inherent worth

Equal Voice Voting (EVV) can erase WTA and welcome every voter, ensuring all of us matter. We may not be in agreement with each other, but as we endure this common pandemic, we should realize how valuable we are to each other. We should realize all of us deserve, at a minimum and as a fundamental human requirement, our respect.

Our congregation may be separated under this “new normal” time, but we still cling to the first of our seven principles:

The inherent worth and dignity of every person.

As I seek silver linings in life, I yearn for the day when voting for our nation’s president will be so inclusive that it reflects this kind of common sentiment.

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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team

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