New Ways of Being
A few days ago, I came downstairs to stretch my legs after being holed up working in our home’s little spare-room-turned-office. The back door was open, and I heard squealing. I saw my husband trying to escape my two boys in a feverish game of trampoline tag. The joyful squealer? My husband. We’ve lived in this house for 18 years—12 years with kids and three with a trampoline. And that scene, that precious sound, was a first. Like many working families with overscheduled lives, time for parents to let loose and just play is rare. This is one of the many crisis-induced norms that I want to keep post-coronavirus.
Other new norms I want to keep: Cuddling with my kids during the workday. The satisfaction of making a great meal with what’s lying around. Cleaner air. Emerging safety nets. Local and state politicians who tell it like it is. Mainstream questioning of our unsustainable economic growth model, our house-of-cards banking structure, our cruel health care system, and the pernicious lack of equity through all of it.
There are old norms I’m ready to let go of: Commuting daily to an office. Errands to the store for those “just right” ingredients. The incessant busy-ness of modern life. Excuses by our political leaders for why we can’t take care of each other and our planet.
At YES! we’ve heard from readers who are struggling with isolation and uncertainty in this crisis, and those who are experiencing more connection and more community than they have in decades. They have found themselves working with others in urgent common purpose. What other incredible things are possible when we put the health of our community at the center of our collective attention?
A few weeks ago, we published an online article by Viking Economics author George Lakey. In “The Nordic Secret to Battling Coronavirus: Trust,” Lakey describes how Norwegians moved quickly and efficiently to lock down the country before a single death from coronavirus had been recorded. This was possible because Norwegians knew they could pause their economy and be OK, thanks to the country’s strong social safety nets. But those policies weren’t always in place—they were hard-won through a persistent process of nonviolent revolution in the 1920s and ’30s when there was massive poverty and oligarchs ran the government.
So back to the question of norms: Now that we’re getting a taste of the society and systems we could have, what gains are we willing to fight to keep? What other ideas will we push forward?
Wishing you strength and health,