What we are experiencing is not normal.
Life in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak is neither a "new normal" nor an "old normal." If the operant word is “unprecedented,” how can it also be normal?
No, we are living in abnormal times.
These are times of new realities. A "covidious" time when individual and collective angst ramps up daily, when uncertainty overwhelms certainty, when even the wealthiest, "most advanced," and "powerful" countries on Earth are powerless to stop the spread of this ubiquitous and insidious assassin.
We do not yet have anything in our arsenal to stop it or even to confidently slow coronavirus' relentless and leveling path. And that path disregards country of origin, race, economic status, gender preference, and religion. At this moment it feels like a global snowball rolling down a hill, picking up momentum as it goes. It’s hard to predict the extent of the damage COVID-19 will have done before it gets to the bottom. But, eventually, it will get to the bottom with help from heroic medical staff, scientists, volunteers, frontline workers at every level, and government officials who wisely listen to what we know and are continuing to learn.
Then and only then will we be in a position to create a "new normal" – much like we created a new normal after 9/11. But this time we’ll bring more experience to bear. And, perhaps, this time we can identify and embrace more exuberantly what is best in human nature. We’ll appreciate more ardently how interconnected we all are.
Yes, we are indeed all in this together.
We can learn from the increasing acts of selflessness and generosity, which proliferate in such heartfelt ways and bring the best of our human instincts to the fore. Throughout the crisis, we’ve been reminded of who and what is really important, what we can live without, and how we are truly sisters and brothers across all personal and geographic boundaries.
Let’s start envisioning that new normal today while the deadly snowball rolls on and before it hits bottom. We are, individually and collectively, in a position to create our new normal. One with which we all can truly live.
If not us, then who?
Allan Shedlin has devoted his life’s work to improving the odds for children and families. He has three daughters, a “bonus” son, five grandchildren, and three “bonus” grandchildren. Trained as an educator, Allan has alternated between classroom service, policy development, and advising. After eight years as an elementary school principal, Allan founded and headed the National Elementary School Center for 10 years. In the 1980s, he began writing about education and parenting for major news outlets and education trade publications, as well as appearing on radio and TV. In 2008, he founded REEL Fathers in Santa Fe, NM, and now serves as president emeritus. In 2017, he founded the DADvocacy Consulting Group. In 2018, he launched the DADDY Wishes Fund and Daddy Appleseed Fund. He earned his elementary and high school diplomas from NYC’s Ethical Culture Schools, BA at Colgate University, MA at Columbia University’s Teachers College, and an ABD at Fordham University. But he considers his D-A-D the most important “degree” of all.