People are Asking. So, What Do You Think?

In recent days I've run into a recurring question - in telephone conversations, while getting a haircut and in a pollster's online surveys. People, it seems, want to know when the pandemic is over whether we'll get "back to normal."

On its face the question seems a bit absurd. It assumes the existence of a form of stasis that defines what once was as normal when humanity in modern times is in a constant state of change. We tend to quickly forget what once was and substitute the present as normal. There's a term for it, creeping normalcy.

I guess the question should be, once the pandemic is behind us, how closely will daily life resemble what that was in early January, 2020? Will we emerge greatly changed or somehow find our way back to what once was?

My guess is that most will carry on in a more or less altered reality. Some, those who succumbed to the virus, won't be around at all. Some will have lost family members.  Some may find their pre-pandemic employment gone through automation, robotics or just the failure of their former employer. Some may return to the office or plant while some will continue to work from home. Some will be in less secure, more precarious financial straits. There are so many ways in which we may emerged changed that it seems hard to imagine a return to pre-pandemic normalcy.

If our political leaders are sincere (don't hold your breath) we will all be swept up in the Herculean effort to slash greenhouse gas emissions by half or more by 2030. That's an immense degree of change within a breathtakingly brief interval.

What do you think. Will there be a reasonable facsimile of the old normal when this is over? If not, how will we be changed? What will our next normal be like? 


  1. The new norm?
    It's called creeping 1984.


    1. I wish I could write that off as facetious, TB. I wish.

  2. The Covid vaccine seems to work, at least. However, in that great flu pandemic of a century ago there was no vaccine and the outbreak gradually petered out except here and there, so that flu reappeared every fall. Do we even know if there were many variants that developed in that old pandemic? We know that some dominant strains of flu have been present post WW2, and that a guess is made each year as to which one will prevail in the fall so as to prepare vaccines. But did these strains develop from the "Spanish" flu at the time, or was there real flu in the years before it? If so, where did it go, or was it just the common cold?

    This time, with vaccines available, we essentially are staving off the situation where Covid essentially peters out of its own accord, and variants are everywhere already. I unfortunately think that this means we will slink about for years with masks on, unsure of what will happen if we don't. And we were already warned there'll need to be an annual "booster" Covid shot by last summer because of mutations.

    Depending on one's point-of-view, some believe the world's population needs to be reduced. You continually mention this as the only way to really save the world ecologically, and Gates and the like-minded super plutocracy are all in favour of it, whether for straight logical reasons or something more sociopathically nefarious, who knows?

    India looks set to show us what the real disaster of Covid looks like, and then perhaps Brazil will follow what with a complete nutter in charge there. I say disaster because these are sentient humans dying, and nobody stuck up their hand to be the one to commit suicide to save the race, even if they intellectually understand there are too many of us. I worked out in my mind's eye decades ago that about 250 million worldwide would be a good number, such that each person could have a "good" life. However, the sociopaths among us who rise to the top to "lead" us in our various tribes, always feel the need to dominate others, so there'll always be a social hierarchy where some lose out, and likely wars where one psychopath wants to teach the pyschopath in charge over there a lesson and steal their treasure. Wars kill people, so there'll be pressure to re-populate to compensate. And really, that's only the first rung on the ladder to doing all over again as a species what we've already done before. The need for power and therefore greed is built into our DNA to show up most strongly in some individuals like muscles in others, and societal stasis is unlikely.

    This Covid time around, I really cannot see a way to predict if we'll get back to "normal". Unlikely in my view. What the new normal will turn out to be is anyone's guess, because psychopaths will exist anyway and take advantage whatever the situation. We are a flawed biological product as a species if a stasis with the world around us is the supposed ideal.

    1. Yes, Bill, we are a "flawed biological product" as you suggest. It lies at the core of the theory that intelligent life is self-extinguishing. Put in perspective the postwar era has been the blink of an eye in the history of human civilization. More like the flaring of a wooden match as the phosphorus bursts into flame.

      Once a civilization rigs ways that it can, at least temporarily, live beyond the finite limits of its ecosystems, normal no longer exists. Stasis, Bill, need not be such a bad thing when it reflects balance, a species living in harmony with its host, the essence of Steady State or Full Earth economics. As you point out, however, we live at the pleasure of a somewhat sociopathic elite.

  3. prescience from 1983:

    "The Trouble With Normal
    Bruce Cockburn

    Strikes across the frontier and strikes for higher wage
    Planet lurches to the right as ideologies engage
    Suddenly it's repression, moratorium on rights
    What did they think the politics of panic would invite?
    Person in the street shrugs -- "Security comes first"
    But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse
    But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse
    Callous men in business costume speak computerese
    Play pinball with the Third World trying to keep it on its knees
    Their single crop starvation plans put sugar in your tea
    And the local Third World's kept on reservations you don't see
    "It'll all go back to normal if we put our nation first"
    But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse
    But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse
    Fashionable fascism dominates the scene
    When ends don't meet it's easier to justify the means
    Tenants get the dregs and landlords get the cream
    As the grinding devolution of the democratic dream
    Brings us men in gas masks dancing while the shells burst
    The trouble with normal is it always gets worse"

    or ... "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose"

    1. True enough, NPoV. It's been a while since I last heard that Cockburn piece.

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