By Jessyka Dooley
Earlier this week, someone said to me, “If I hear the term ‘the new normal’ one more time, I’m going to gag!” To be quite honest, I kind of agree. I also catch myself saying it on a quite regular basis. To use the term “new normal,” you must first define what was normal in the first place. To be quite honest, I’m not sure my generation has ever experienced any kind of long-term normal.
Growing up in the millennial generation, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a consistent normal, and the more I think about it, I’m not sure many people have.
My generation was born for COVID-19. Our upbringing prepared us for this moment in time. No job security? Been there. Staying at home for days on end? Done that.
We have watched the world change so many times we never even grasped any kind of normality.
The oldest millennials lived without internet in the palms of their hands and watched the space shuttle Challenger explode. We went from using encyclopedias to Googling things. We’ve sat in peaceful classrooms and classrooms practicing, or actively responding to, active shooter drills. We’ve shopped in stores and we’ve shopped online. We’ve studied textbooks and we’ve studied iPads and computer screens. We’ve walked right up to the airport gates to meet family and we’ve been patted down and picked apart by TSA. We’ve used the US Postal Service and we’ve had every email ending from @yahoo.com to our own account. We’ve had our photos developed and we’ve airdropped photos to our friends. It was normal before and it was normal after.
And now . . . well, now I consider it normal to stand six feet apart in line at the grocery store with a mask on. Need- less to say, change is in the DNA of millennials.
The new normal is happening all the time around us, but usually it is not quite as abrupt.
So, looking back, pre-coronavirus, what was normal to you? Did you enjoy everything that was deemed “normal?” The COVID-19 pandemic has caused humanity to recognize that we do not have a monopoly on normalcy, at least not in every circumstance. This virus has a silent symptom, a symptom that causes us to glorify the past, dreaming of the day when things will go back to normal. Unfortunately, the normal we seem to be craving is not something to be glorified, in fact, much of our normal was downright disgusting.
Our culture has normalized racism.
Our culture has normalized sexism.
Our culture has normalized selfishness and greed.
Our culture has normalized lies and hate speech.
Our culture has normalized busyness.
Our culture has normalized so many things that do not reflect the Kingdom of Heaven.
Our world may not have a say in the new normal that the coronavirus is implementing all around us, but we all get the opportunity to uproot “normal” injustices and replace them with equality, kindness, and selflessness. At the end of the day, every day, we each play a part in what “normal” is and what it is shaping up to be.
I’ve caught myself saying things like, “I just want things to go back to normal.” I’m sure you have too. Graduating seniors have made the most of their ceremonies but are still mourning that special moment and feeling that may never come. Mothers are giving birth with no one by their side. Families are saying their final goodbye to loved ones over iPads. We have to wear masks and wait in lines. I can’t wait for these things to go away. Time can’t move fast enough! Unfortunately, I’m not educated in the specific science to formulate the proper vaccination for this virus.
So, while we wait for this tsunami wave of COVID-19 to pass and for the pieces of normalcy that we love so deeply to return, let’s create our new normal as followers of Jesus.
Let’s normalize patience in grocery store lines and let others go ahead.
Let’s normalize equality and stand up for those who are facing injustices.
Let’s normalize young leaders and give opportunities for the next generation to step up.
Let’s normalize tipping generously.
Let’s normalize gratitude and focus on our blessings more than our burdens.
Let’s normalize good news over doomsday news.
Let’s create a normal that is so good no virus can wipe it out! Do not let this crisis go to waste. It would be a shame for our world and lives to be shaken and then jump right back into how we did life before. This is (I hope) a once in a lifetime opportunity to build a world, a culture, and a normal that we are proud of. I, for one, can’t wait to see what we can create together!
—Jessyka Dooley is RMC associate youth director. Email her at: [email protected]