Not going back to normal

Covid got me in the end. 

Just as midterm got underway and the government announced the lifting of the mask mandate, I tested positive, after three days of feeling a bit off.

But even before my head got all fuzzy and my body achy, I felt uneasy about the sudden rush to go back to normal. The past 2 years have put us all through the wringer, and I can’t be the only one feeling weary.

Of course, I’m happy to see the end of restrictions, at long last.

But my worry is that we’ve learnt nothing from the past 2 years.
My worry is that we’ll forget and pick up where we left off as if the pandemic had never happened.
My worry is that we won’t acknowledge, let alone address, the distress we find ourselves in after 2 years of isolation, loss, grief, loneliness and anxiety. After 2 years stuck in survival mode.

This normal we are urged to go back to was the problem.

The official response to the pandemic has been one of control and domination – remember the “war on covid” rhetoric favoured by many governments in the early days? The powers-that-be never thought to question how we got into a pandemic in the first place: because of control and domination.

Our deeply patriarchal, globalised civilisation insists that aggression is the only way forward, when in fact, this toxic mindset is the root cause of the violence and destruction we inflict on each other and on the world. 

In the globalised society we live in, there is no time for rest and recovery.

Gotta grow the economy, stupid!

More economic growth, fuelled by more trade, more production for export, more foreign investment – more, more, more. This is the only way, they say. The pandemic is over, so go back to work. There is no alternative, they say.

Meanwhile, people fall into homelessness and poverty in ever greater numbers. If there is one thing that covid has demonstrated, it is that the myth of wealth trickling down is just that: a myth.

Disaster capitalism is well and truly alive.

What normal?

Yet there are signs that were absent 2 years ago. There is an awareness rising, bubbling under the surface.

The unprecedented surge in wild swimming, women’s circles, food growing, forest bathing and all things Celtic speaks of a dissatisfaction with the global consumer culture, of a hunger for meaning and true belonging.

We haven’t created new ways of living. Not yet. Not quite. But the seeds were planted. And like snowdrops, they are taking root and they are pushing through the surface of life as we know it. For there could be more to life than the capitalist dream we’ve been sold as the only reality. 

In countless ways big and small, people are divesting from this toxic system. And it’s not a minute too soon.

What if there was no going “back to normal”?

What if these unprecedented times were an opportunity to reconnect with what truly matters – our true selves, other people and the wondrous world around us, our only home.

What if another world is possible?

Just imagine: A garment “that fits all of humanity and nature”!

The future is still ours for the making.
If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.*

*words borrowed from The Hill We Climb, by Amanda Gorman





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