Yearning for “Normal”

           The restrictions under which we have all had to live since the outbreak of the coronavirus have been difficult and inconvenient. We took so many things for granted: being able to get together with friends and families at restaurants or at home, visiting our sick loved ones in hospitals and nursing homes, having funerals, going to church, going to movies or concerts or plays…all of that was a part of our normal and daily lives. We didn’t realize how convenient and easy things were for us. 

            “Normal” as far as the way things used to be, however, is gone. Too many lives have been unalterably changed. Businesses have shut down – not only due to the virus but also to natural disasters including hurricanes, floods, and wildfires and other natural disasters. Too many people have lost their jobs. The very wealthy are doing well, but the masses of people are suffering in ways they have not done before.

            Our government, too, has changed. Some people approve of everything this president is doing, but it is safe to say that a larger group of people do not. We have a president who, despite disrespecting and disregarding the law as it pertains to him and his problems, touts that he is the “law and order president,” a gaslight for the practice of police using force against Black people. The phrase was used by Richard Nixon in the 60s, when police force was justified in trying to quell Black people and their white allies protesting for their civil and human rights but was actually originally coined by Lyndon B. Johnson, Nixon’s predecessor, according to historian Elizabeth Hinton. Johnson, says Hinton, used the phrase as he put more money into policing as opposed to social welfare programs, but we seldom hear that story. Regardless of its origins, Nixon, who was corrupt, too, sidestepped the law in his own actions even as he promoted harsh action and prison time for Black people and protesters in general – until his own lawlessness caught up with him. (https://time.com/5846321/nixon-trump-law-and-order-history/

            This president has sullied the important relationships this country has had with important allies, including Germany, France, and Canada, while engaging in bodacious courting of authoritarian leaders of countries this country has never claimed as “friends,” including North Korea, Russia, Hungary and China. It’s scary to think of what would happen if this country got into a dangerous threat of our national security, one which would require the support of allies. At this point, it does not seem that they would “be there” because this president has insulted them even as he has pulled this country out of the circle of friends it has had for so long.

            The president has nearly completely dismantled the government as he has worked to put all power in the Executive Branch. When he was elected, aide Steven Miller said in an interview that the president has “total power,” something that the reporter on that day challenged and debunked. But this president has worked consistently, if not so quietly, to make Miller’s statement true. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ljz8y2qX1f4) People keep saying the president “doesn’t have a plan” when it comes to issues that many are concerned about, but that is not totally accurate. He does, in fact, have a plan. He is, in fact, “draining the swamp” as he promised, filling it with sycophants who will do whatever he says. He is forming an authoritarian regime, and is doing it quite effectively. Things already are not “normal” as we have known them, and will not be.

            And then there is America’s race problem. It has never been addressed or “fixed,” and the world knows it. Nations that have always been considered to be the adversaries of the United States are using the “race problem” and targeting black people to help cause confusion and more division in a country which was already horribly cracked. The president, though he says he is the “least racist person you will ever meet,” has and is openly courting white terrorist groups, including the Proud Boys, stoking their anger and encouraging them to do what they do to “protect” their president and their country. Armed white people who believe that America was made by white people for white people are fighting just as hard against those protesting police brutality as they did when they fought against Black people working to end segregation and to have the right to vote.

            It is sickening to see and to experience. And it is scary.

            There will never be the America that was before the pandemic and before this president. The covers have been thrown off of America’s issues and problems. Even if this president loses the election, what he has birthed will continue to grow; it cannot be put back in the bottle. The courts have been stacked with young white people who believe as he does. I am not quite sure where the money will come from to help the masses who will still be unemployed or underemployed due to his horrific leadership in the fight against the spread of COVID-19, but it is clear that some of the benefits Americans have grown to depend on – from healthcare thanks to the Affordable Care Act, to Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security – are in danger.

            After every major wave of history in our societies, there is change. Some of them are good, others are not. The going belief is that “good” eventually triumphs over evil, that the suffering of the masses will be reversed as the activists continue to push for justice. But sometimes, the change is slow. It is almost always very painful.

            What is birthed after America gets through this time remains to be seen, but clearly, what was “normal” as we all knew it is gone.

            A candid observation …

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