The New Normal?

We all have a sense of what is normal, generally in a way that is specific to our experience growing up. Normal is almost always based on past events and relationships. While we may assume that others share our idea of “normal,” as we navigate through life we find that our assumption isn’t quite accurate.

What then when we find that whatever is happening doesn’t fit our idea of Normal? (I’m thinking the word deserves a capital letter since it takes up a lot of space in our current and ongoing news cycle.) We either open to accept the difference into our concept of Normal or reject what doesn’t seem to fit. Of course, mostly the first encounter with an outlier doesn’t simply lead to an embrace – we are generally more skeptical than that. It can take repeated encounters with what’s new or different.

I believe that recognizing a new Normal also involves an attitude of acceptance. We may not like or appreciate the change to which we are adapting, but there is an attitude of taking in and acknowledging that leads us to say “OK, this is where we are now.”

Resistance on the other hand signals a push back often based on what we determine to be threatening to our current sense of Normal. Behind the “I don’t like this” is the fear of a serious challenge to our way of life or our beliefs. Sometimes that fear is real, sometimes not. However, if our emotional response leans into fear, the reality of anticipated threats may be irrelevant.

There are two aspects of our current lives that have earned the label “New Normal.” One is the attitude and behavior of the current president – which is very far out of sync with our previous expectations of what a president says or does. He has been able to create chaos and disruption, constantly capturing the news cycle with a daily barrage of tweets and challenges to the limits of his presidential powers. We have now come to expect this behavior from him as some kind of New Normal. What’s particularly interesting is that this change in expectations has less to do with policy issues than with personal issues. His agenda is personal but since it apparently allows members of his party to push through some of their issues, he has their support. Not to mention the fact that he also threatens and bullies them into remaining loyal to him.

The second New Normal has to do with the changes in climate that are a result of decades of fossil fuel use plus current agricultural methods, and dumping of trash and toxic waste into our water systems. Our dependence on nature’s systems has been ignored. The story we live by has become one largely based on an extractive relationship with natural resources and the environment. Alterations in weather patterns form just the tip of the (melting) iceberg resulting in climate events that are now viewed as the New Normal.

These ways in which our concept of Normal is being challenged don’t have to be accepted as the way things are now. We do have a choice when it comes to what we want our Normal to be moving forward. We can work together to create the New Normal that serves all of us. We can be the immune system that fights for a fair and just government and preserves a healthy planet. Starting now!

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