We’ve all heard the expression, “It’s hard to remember that your objective was to drain the swamp when you are waist-deep in alligators.”
We have been battering alligators and hunkered down in crisis mode for way too long.
According to Wikipedia, John F. Kennedy, our 35th president, incorrectly stated in a campaign that the Chinese symbol for “crisis” (危機)is made up of two words: “danger” and “opportunity”. (As it turns out, the two words are better represented by “danger” and “changepoint” although Google’s translation page breaks them down to “danger” and “machine”.)
It appears that finally, after way too long, the sun is timidly peeking its healing rays over the horizon and a new world is rising.
Although a long road lies yet ahead, we are gradually evolving into this new era, wearily struggling to heal the bruises and scars brought upon us by too many crises in too short of a time.
Whatever the etymology of “crisis,” it is indeed a period of introspection and an opening to shake things up; in essence, to design a new normal.
After all, if we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always be where we’ve always been. Speaking for you, me, and the guy down the street, I am convinced none of us want to re-experience another 2020.
On social media, a meme is making the rounds. It shows a photo of a handwritten note; on it is penned, “Nothing should go back to normal. Normal wasn’t working. If we go back to the way things were, we will have lost the lesson. May we rise up and do better.”
In reply to my posting of the meme, a friend commented, “…sounds like you didn’t like your life… I sure in the hell want mine back!” Although well-intentioned I’m sure, that misses the bigger point.
Firstly, we’re never returning to “normal,” however that’s defined.
What we experienced last year – and continue to do so — is a tectonic plate paradigm shift in how we live. The culture of 2025 will be as different from 2015 as 2015 is from 1965. Whether that’s “good” or “bad” or simply “is” can be debated but the profound influences that a pandemic, economic crash, urban turmoil, and the most divisive election and aftermath in the last 100 years cannot be swept under the rug. Those influences are now in our DNA, never to leave us.
Yes, I miss being in plays, traveling, meeting friends at coffee shops, going to services with my congregation on Sundays, eating at restaurants, and not having to mask up or avoid others when I walk down the street. And Lord almighty, do I miss hugs. Of course, I crave those and want them back.
But as stated, disasters bring opportunities and we have to admit that the old system, whatever that was, was not working on lots of levels. After all, if it was, we wouldn’t be where we are now.
So, to that end, in the belief that we each contribute to the future by what we each envision, I’m posting my wish-list of a future “new normal.”
I imagine that as we re-emerge, we have a world where economic inequality doesn’t exist; where politicians do what’s right, even if it’s difficult; where people who don’t look like us or love as we do can lead happy and full lives; where mom and pop stores are favored over multi-billion dollar corporations; where well-meaning people of opposing views can disagree agreeably and part ways shaking hands instead of raising fists; where safe, healthy, inspiring education is a primary focus for our children; where our role models are health-care providers, educators, and community leaders; where our planet is cleansed; where who we pray to – or if we pray at all – doesn’t matter; where the artists, craftspeople, and vocational workers are as celebrated as CEOs; where science is honored; where smart dedicated hard-working people can get the education and resources they need regardless of zip code or income; where a disease cannot bring a planet to its knees; and where character matters more than wealth.
Crisis indeed brings with it possibilities. Let’s not toss them away; rather let’s share a collective moment and picture tomorrow to be so much more than was yesterday. Let’s not limit ourselves to “old ways” nor blame ourselves for what went wrong. We were doing the best we knew how to do with what we knew, but we now know more. Let us hold close to the best of the past in our new future.
But, most importantly, let’s build it back better than it was – for all of us.
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker and founder of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, where he can be contacted for coaching, consulting, and presentations. Share your gratitude at his on-line Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/intentions.affirmations.manifestations or join his mailing list at http://eepurl.com/LsSIX