“Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty." 

- Albert Einstein

Lessons from Lockdown and the "New Normal"

Updated: Jun 1

Shaun Britton observes what we need to know before commencing the 'New Normal'.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova

As many public places lay quiet, as buildings that held host to hundreds stand with closed doors, Nature continues - and if anything, has benefited greatly from a brief respite from our relentless pursuits. Through all that has unfolded in recent months, the cycles of nature still wax and wane as they always have. That should, one would hope, be a notable observation - that through our actions and abstinence Nature continues to walk forward.

Now more than ever, it seems pertinent to remember that we are visitors not owners. We are a part of the world, of course, but we are most certainly guests - not governors.

Whatever this ‘new normal’ is, will be and does or should involve, one thing is clear if we wish to make a better future - we should be very clear on what the ‘new normal’ should not be.

As we consider how to re-engage the economy, our priorities in overcoming the trials of recent months are in danger of becoming staggeringly misaligned. Economic security is obviously of great importance, yet there can be no economy without ecology, no profit without planet.

Our endeavours are, as they aways have been, reliant on the environment. The extent to which we are able to have a functioning economy, is in direct correlation with the capacity of the environment to sustain it. One must dictate the other, and we have for much time now got them round the wrong way.

The Forgotten Partner

It could be argued that the current crisis, when one understands its origins, arose from our fractured relationship to the natural world. As with so many similar crises, one would be hard pushed to ignore perhaps the most common thread, which is our treatment and use of animals. Animals remain one of our most tangible and tactile windows to the rest of nature. How we treat them speaks volumes.

Put simply, our use and treatment of animals can be observed to be in most if not all cases, unnecessary, and our treatment of them is both questionable and unconscionable. It is from the industries built up around this exploitation of animals and our ability to overpower them, that such a large portion of our major crises have arisen. Unprecedented recent events will sadly become commonplace if we continue to perceive our station as above that of those we share the Earth with, and indeed, the Earth itself.

In our reasoning and recovery, we might consider to foster our humility and self management as a foundational approach, rather than as a post-impact regretfulness. As we have seen from recent acts of kindness and ingenuity from all walks of life, we have the capacity to act unprompted to support the many in need of help, and indeed, those who help us, while those in positions of power may leave us waiting and wanting.

Whilst we have been away from loved ones, isolating or quarantining ourselves, most have recognised what is most important to us when our activities are restricted. Many have rediscovered or restrengthened a keenness to help others, to be with those they love, even in the simplest of activities. Additionally, as amply demonstrated, protecting the parts of our infrastructures that sustain our societies, regardless of whether the end user is rich, poor, young or old, has experienced a renewal and restrengthening.

The Real New Normal

The term 'new normal' despite entering the common lexicon with some fanfare, carries under its whimsical connotations an alarming lack of concreteness and a curious ambiguity. That is, in part, due to our still trying to understand how daily life will operate in light of recent events. However, that ambiguity is also an awareness of opportunity. These are unprecedented times for many, but unprecedented times naturally usher in new definitions and changes of direction.

As we step back from the speeding train of our financial pursuits and personal hurrying, many are beginning to contemplate that a new normal should not just be what goes on day by day, but about what we ultimately accept. Normality becomes a benchmark, a systemic green light that opens the door for similar activity.

We can approach the fabled new normal with a bane, or a brush. We can co-opt, or co-create. Whichever we do, if we are too become the people we truly wish to be, and create a future we are capable of, we must allow ourselves to remember what we are so close to losing: that we are the brush strokes in a picture much wider than our place on the canvas.

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In recent times, we have faced challenges unlike any in recorded human history, and as a collective are now faced with humanity's cumulative mistakes inherited from many generations.

The time for change is now. It is now time to acknowledge and adapt to a better, fairer and more sustainable way of living.

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