Normal is a foreign concept to me now. It’s been that way for a few years. Every so often something happens that is so jarring, so completely life-altering that the world can only be seen as different forever afterward.
Several moments in my personal life have been this way. Some for the better, some for the worse. But always there is this feeling. A knife slicing partially through my life. That was then, this is now.
America has seen many of these moments. Columbine, September 11th. These days marked my childhood and that of my whole generation. We learned to be afraid on those days. We learned that we are not, and have never been, safe.
The last year has seen more of those moments than we’ve ever experienced at once before. I don’t need to tell you about them, we’ve all living through it together.
Some people talk fondly of getting ‘back to normal’. Back to how life was before Covid-19. Before the brutal murder of George Floyd. Before the presidency of Donald Cheeto-for-brains Trump.
Maybe it’s because those people have never experienced a life-changing moment before. Or maybe they don’t get that it can happen to a community, country, or world just as easily as it can happen to one family.
There is no going back to normal. The world has changed too much. People have lost their jobs, their homes, their loved ones and their lives. And for way too many people, normal wasn’t working. Normal was killing them in the streets right in front of all of us.
So I hope we don’t ever get back to normal. Let’s make a new normal instead. Let’s educate ourselves. Let’s make new ways of doing things that might never have been done before. Let’s work as a community to decide what we want the new normal to be. And let’s build that instead.
Don’t lose this moment. Don’t let it get away without making real change. And don’t forget about all of this when it’s done, because it will be done someday.
The pandemic will end.
We shouldn’t stop fighting for universal health care that doesn’t depend on your job. We shouldn’t stop fighting for health care as a human right. And we shouldn’t stop washing our damned hands.
The rallies will end.
We shouldn’t stop insisting on equal rights. We shouldn’t stop holding killer cops accountable. We shouldn’t stop pushing for police reform until everyone is actually protected and served by the police.
Trump’s presidency will end.
We shouldn’t stop paying attention to what our leaders are doing. We shouldn’t stop contacting our representatives, going to rallies, showing up for marches. We shouldn’t stop caring.
If we go back to normal after all this, it means we’ve failed.