Now that Joseph R. Biden is President of the United States of America, I keep hearing something that is deeply troubling to me: “Now we can get back to normal.”
NOW WE CAN GET BACK TO NORMAL!!!???
Given how bat-shit crazy the past 4 years were under FORMER President Donald J. Trump, I get it. Normalcy seems like a welcomed state of being. But it shouldn’t be.
First off, “normal” led to the current state we are in. “Normal” led to Trump. It led to the latest failed Rapture prediction known as “Q.” It led to the only “storm” that would come – the storming of the capitol. It led to a pandemic response that left more than a lot to be desired. I could go on, but I think you get the point: Our current state of being didn’t spring up out of nowhere. It sprung out from “normal.” Trump was but a symptom of a greater disease. And yes, by removing him from office through the power of the vote, we’ve treated a symptom. But the underlying disease still exists.
You see, getting back to normal will only lead us back to a place of complacency. A place where justice is for “just us.” Cis. Hetero. White. Dare I say . . . “normal.” But that shouldn’t be our normal. Our normal should be justice for all because we are all human.
So get back to normal? No, get to a new normal.
A normal where Black folks aren’t incarcerated at starkly higher rates than white folks, even if they commit the same crime.
A normal where LGBTQ+ folks aren’t shunned and driven to higher suicide rates than straight folks.
A normal where healthcare and education are affordable.
A normal where the climate is cared for, over and above corporate profits.
A normal where we treat each other more like neighbors and less like enemies.
A normal where we have no enemies.
This is the sort of “normal” Jesus envisioned, where the oppressed are lifted up out of poverty and where equity and equality are key ingredients in the kingdom of God. Not that we can expect our modern notions of politics to be the deciding factor for what gets us into God’s kingdom – after all, Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world – but we can certainly demand it not be our greatest hinderance.
This is the normal I want to see. It’s the normal that good people everywhere want to see. But one key factor is that no matter what place we get to over the course of the next 4 years, we can never allow it to become normal. Progress can always be made. That’s why we don’t settle for a “perfect” union. We reach for a “more perfect” union. Because perfection will become just another place of complacency. A place to rest on our laurels and get comfortable with “good enough.” And that only leads us back to “normal.”
How do we do this? It starts with us. It starts in our own hearts. As Thich Nhat Hahn reminds us, peace is not just the absence of violence. Peace starts in the heart. Peace starts at home. What happens on the corporate level is just a reflection of what’s going on in our individual homes and hearts. So, change our individual homes and we change our communal ones.
Listen: We have a lot of work to do. Sending his Royal Smugness down to Florida is just the first piece of the puzzle. The real work now begins. The work of lifting up the impoverished. The work of healing the sick. The work of caring for the widows and orphans. The work of healing our planet. The work of racial equality and equity. Progress can be made, and it starts today.
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Click the picture below to check out the latest volume of The Bonfire Sessions, which came out 1/20/2021.