With all the noise and headlines about “the new normal” or “there is no going back to the normal I would remind everyone that Normalcy is functional. That doesn’t sound flashy nor does it sound defendable or even worthy of defending. In fact. It almost sounds like we should be hungrily scanning about for some ‘new normal.’
That said. “Normal” may not be greatly functional nor does it means there isn’t any dysfunctionality but, in general, it is a mix of good and bad and average in which the majority of people accept it as just part of what Life is supposed to be like. In other words. Everything just seems like it is in its place. So. For the most part most people do not see any reason to raise their voices complaining nor do they sing out loud praises. It is what it is and, well, silence about it seems the order of the day.
That’s why when someone starts yelling about shit most of us just find it annoying, and ignore it. And that’s why when the everyday normal gets shaken like an etch-a-sketch we not only find it annoying but uncomfortable.
Note: To be clear. Normal can mask a shitload of issues – good & bad. Inequality, the net positives of globalization & the negatives. The net positives of regulations & the negative of overregulation. The maddening underbelly of individual responsibility (the narrative that if everyone works hard they will be successful).
Regardless. This is where normal enters into a danger zone and its good aspects get threatened. The shouting veers into the conspiracies, the fringe and the wacky almost suggesting the normal is the abnormal and the abnormal should be considered normal. All of a sudden, in its silence, normal becomes complicit to the abnormal and, worse, normal becomes the “them” in an us-versus-them narrative.
I know a shitload of people will suggest that ‘normal’ is defined by the individual and how they view life but, in general, at one end of the ‘how to live your life’ spectrum is wacko eccentric person and the other end is bland milquetoast-boring-to-tears person.
Most of us reside somewhere in the middle of all that.
I tend to believe the problem is in how we most often have this discussion. When we talk about living a ‘normal’ life it almost seems destined for some boredom or stagnancy or even “rut-like features” and certainly when you decide to sit back with some self-reflection, uhm …, it will most likely be generously dipped in some disappointment. On the other hand, it seems like choosing to live an ‘anything but normal’ life it almost seems destined for some sanity challenges and certainly some self-reflection generously dipped in some discouragement.
Yikes. So your choice is either disappointment, or discouragement, all wrapped up in a feeling of some injustice occurring.
Yeah. All of a sudden normal is painted in a broad brush of injustice. And it is within that ‘injustice’ in which normal’s silence is damned because the angry, the ones who see conspiracies somewhere (in the cracks of normal) which create their sense of injustice – are loud. They shout. They can be rough around the edges supported by some slick few who egg them on. And they are not silent.
The unsilent slip into the cracks of good normal and pry open some of the bad normal and take advantage. They use slivers of truth (injustice), tack on a fact or two and all of a sudden they hold up a new new normal for people to consider. And, if you are not paying attention (or if normal remains silent), all of a sudden the lone loud voice is deemed worthy of consideration.
This is not only crazy, it dangerous.
Yeah. Sometimes the shit you do may be out of the mainstream, but 99% of the time it is not unacceptable to everyone. It is just is not the normal everyday 100% of the time shit people see or hear.
Whether you like it or not … suggesting ‘normal’ is completely self-defined is … well … stupid.
Yes. You should have your own way of seeing the world and the life you’re living.
Yes. You should feel it is normal <as long as it is not a ‘statement’ but rather a natural extension of your ‘self’>.
Yes. You should accept the idea that other people may feel differently about your version of normal.
All that said here is where I think normal and abnormal go into conflict.
Yes. You should understand that normal is actually defined by some standard operating procedures of the people, society & culture as a whole.
And, no, I am not suggesting some of the wacky crap society thrusts upon an individual <society tells me how I should be stuff>, but rather the fact cultures, civilizations in a broader perspective, define some accepted rules of behavior – some “what I should do” stuff.
Let’s call them ‘core life action basics.’ These are some normal principles which everyone should do and think in a normal day and a normal life.
Here is what I believe.
The good news for people who balk at ‘normal.’ The great thing about culture is it tends to give an individual a lot of room to expand upon these things. You can go about your life wearing whatever clothes you want and saying a bunch of different words as personal expression beyond the core. I call that ‘window dressing stuff.’ In other words, I can dress up my core ‘normality crap’ in pretty much anything I want and express it with almost any words I want.
The trouble occurs mostly around the fact that some individuals infringe upon the core, change the core and sometimes do things which do not meet what most people would accept as accepted normal behavior.
Here is not just a Life truth, but a civilization truth: a culture cannot permit that ‘abnormal normal’ to become normalized simply because they are shouting about some claimed injustice. While we often suggest it takes courage to express yourself in some ‘not-so-normal’ ways it actually takes even more courage to defend core normality. In other words. Sometimes normal demands NOT being silent.
When it comes to this topic the bravest people in the world are not the ones who stand out through self-expression of self-identity even if that identity is ‘not the normal’, but rather the people who unflinchingly defend normal core beliefs, principles & behaviors and unflinchingly express these ‘normal’ ideas.
I imagine the problem is that those people are not interesting enough to make splashy headlines nor are they boring enough to be masticated for being milquetoast. And, yet, they were the bravest of us all. They chose to be normal & defend the good found within normal and fought relentlessly for both.
In the end.
Normalcy is silent at the moment. Why should it speak? It is what it is. Yet. In a world in which many of the advocates for abnormal, the fringe, the conspiracies, the “new normal”, are shouting at the top of their lungs, can normal remain silent? Can normal AFFORD to be silent? I do not believe it can.
Yes. Some things do need to be fixed. Yes. Some things need to be designed better (how we work, how society interacts, how globalization works, etc). But to suggest that ‘normal’ is bad in & of itself is wrong. Normal offers, well, sanity, some consistency, threads of functionality. Maybe we just need to be optimizing normal and not seeking some ‘new normal.’
We need not always shout, but, normal needs to defend itself. It is time for normal to start fighting back. It is time for normal to not be silent.
My pinned tweet, almost from day one I returned to twitter in 2016, is “In this time, at this place, I will be defined”.
At that moment I felt like we were at a ‘tide in the affairs of men’ and being silent was not an option. My view has not changed at all; however, my attention has been drawn toward, well, normalcy. While I believe Trump is malignant to democracy, freedom and being enlightened (he espouses ignorance) his greater malignancy is toward normal. He seems to thrive on suggesting normal, everything that exists within it presently, is bad and ‘normal’ should be defined through isolationism and a 1950’s lens. Tack on a pandemic in which “how one normally lives & works a normal day” has been unbundled and Normal’s narrative has been jumbled. I say all that because maybe “I will be defined” by how I best define what is a good normal and what we should be doing to fix the bad normal.