“Can’t wait to get back to normal.”
“Once we’re back to normal, we can do that.”
“When will we be allowed to get back to normal?”
These sentiments have been very present in our lives recently. There’s hope, a light at the end of this tunnel of COVID. We can see things starting to open, people are being vaccinated, we’re able to hug our loved ones again (if we both have said vaccination), etc. The warmer weather and this ever-growing sense of hope is helping to propel us back out into the world, back to our long sought after “normal”.
But then our country reminds us what our normal was. Within a week of each other, there have been two mass shootings that made national headlines. One in Georgia on March 16, where a man shot and killed eight people at three different massage parlors, and the second in Colorado on March 22, where a man shot and killed 10 people in a supermarket.
Before the pandemic, I remember the pastors and church staff seemingly endlessly putting candles on the communion table for the victims of yet another mass shooting. This is not the normal that I think people had imagined going back to, and yet it is sadly part of the normalcy that we have created in America.
And then, like a wave of anguish, other “normal” things from before COVID rush to my mind. Natural disasters with little recovery help; school shootings; wars throughout the world; inequality based on gender, race, ability, and more; government shutdowns; the opioid epidemic; prescription drug hikes; constant and increasing pollution due to plastics and emissions; culture/racial tensions, and more. These are the things that had become our normal before the pandemic. None of this should be the normal we return to. None of this is normal!
The pandemic did a lot in our lives, one thing that it did was show how broken we already were; how unfit we were for something that required us to come together and to do things for the safety of others; how allowing ourselves to be divided on every single topic by political theater and media spin creates chasms that we cannot cross.
The normal that we return to needs to be a new normal, a better normal, a more giving, compassionate, selfless normal.
Let’s make it normal to not need to mourn every week for another mass shooting.
Let’s make it normal to not have troops overseas in endless wars.
Let’s make it normal to have affordable health care for everyone because everyone’s health is important.
Let’s make it normal to have mental health services available and affordable for those who need it.
Let’s make it normal to care about our planet and its future more than profits and convenience.
Let’s make it normal to care more for our fellow humans than we do for our possessions.
This is the normalcy that we should seek. This is the normalcy that the Kingdom of God calls us to. This is the normalcy that Jesus teaches us. We need to relearn what is normal and we have the opportunity to start now that our old normal has been broken. Let us grasp this opportunity!