COVID-19 vaccines are now widely available in the USA and approved for anyone 12 years or older. Many places have started lifting COVID-related safety restrictions. New guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) about masking for fully vaccinated people has received a warm welcome from many. At HIP, we are talking about our programs going back to normal, and one question keeps popping up.
What does normal look like in a post-pandemic world?
Our pre-pandemic normal included many wonderful things: building community in in-person events, spending time with our loved ones, sharing meals together, and so much more. What is the one thing you missed most? I know I’m looking forward to more unmasked meetup time with my friends.
However, the pre-pandemic normal also included HIP distributing tens of thousands of meals a year so that people in our community have access to nutritious food. Should we go back to that normal where our neighbors have to rely on charity to ensure they have food on their tables?
The pre-pandemic normal worked really well for a handful of people at the very top but not really working for most people in this country. Our normal included violence on black and brown bodies, often by those who are supposed to protect us, obscene economic inequality, homelessness, everyday gun violence.
The list is endless.
While the USA is well on its way to recovery, the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging in many parts of the world, including Asia and Latin America. Remember how this pandemic started in a small city in China? There is a considerable worry that if we don’t get this pandemic under control everywhere in the world, potentially vaccine-resistant mutants might evolve, and we’ll be fighting this all over again. If there is one thing that this pandemic has taught us, it is that none of us are safe until everyone is safe.
And while we are talking about pandemic recovery, the climate catastrophe is slowly taking us to the point of no return while our leaders are still tinkering with modest goals avoiding any bold action. We are blowing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as if there is no tomorrow.
Do we want to go back to that normal?
A pandemic like this can be once in a generational opportunity to start moving in a new direction, individually and as a country. We all learned that many things could be done differently. We learned to simplify our lives. We found out about things that we can do without, things that we used to think were necessary. Would we grab this opportunity to create a new normal or go back to our broken system? We have a choice.