What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone? I avow my faith that we are marching towards better days. Humanity will not be cast down. We are going on swinging bravely forward along the grand high road and already behind the distant mountains is the promise of the sun.” (Winston Churchill)
After reading The Splendid and the Vile by Eric Larson, I better understand the horror of the blitz over England.The courage of ordinary people was amazing. There was no talk of returning to “normal” because the “new normal” was what they were living through in that moment.
These days I find I have a great deal of time to consider what is the “new normal”. It will be different for different people. There will still be families and caring for each other. We will still have communities to operate, economic issues with which we have to deal. Although the function doesn’t change, the form may. The 9/11 bombings in 2001, changed our sense of security. The world was no longer the safe place we thought it to be. Now a simple unclaimed package was a potential bomb threat. I bought an airline ticket at the last minute due to a change in plans and I was red flagged and checked multiple times until I reached my destination. Terrorism and terrorist attacks became a part of the world scene. The idea of terrorism is to spread uncertainty and fear and it certainly has.
As we gradually find ourselves thinking about the future, we first have to remember those hundreds of thousands who have died from the virus around the world. In my mind I will always have the picture of the mass graves filled with unclaimed bodies and for the poor in New York City in 2020, reminiscent of the mass graves of the victims of plague throughout the world at various times in history; the unmarked graves of those who were incinerated in 9/11, and the millions of victims who disappeared into the gas chambers and ovens of the concentration camps of Europe. This generation will be identified as those growing up and living in the time of the pandemic and it will be a defining moment in how we see ourselves and what we become for the world.
One of the issues of the quarantine has been communication. On the positive side the creativity of religious leaders, school teachers, business and government leaders and a host of others to use the Internet in a positive way to do business and stay in touch has been and will continue to amaze. The floodgates have opened on a myriad of ways to meet together across distances, to learn outside the classroom, to pray and do charitable works together as a distant faith community. The scientific community has come together across borders and oceans to find a vaccine and researchers are sharing and working together in ways that only mean good for the world.
Our political process and government will be in transition. The democratic process was thwarted by the end of primary elections during this time. The use of fear, conspiracy theories, and power grabs are ways of controlling the election process unless every voter is alert to that most precious of gifts — a fair and honest vote.
In economics, the “slush” fund that was headed for big business and the money grabbers will now hopefully go to independent businesses and the unemployed. During this crisis our federal system has been bent and is close to breaking unless we all become more aware and let our leaders know we are aware. We have seen the virus hit minorities, those in prison, those in elderly care centers and the poor the hardest. When businesses re-open there will be a ‘restructuring’ . The economics of the pandemic will take a long time to shake out and there will undoubtedly be a painful re-ordering.
All of this is why we have to be there for each other as this “new normal” becomes a part of our everyday. This is the season of resurrection to new life to hope and a promise of a better world to come. We must pray this will be so.