Dating : The New Normal

h2>Dating : The New Normal

Nelson Harrison

Normalcy: the condition of being normal; the state of being usual, typical or, expected.

People all over the world, from doctors to scientists to news anchors to directors to government officials to everyday people like you and me, are looking for a “sense of normalcy.”

I believe we need an entirely new normal. A normal that focuses on the issues that we perceive as normal yet are abnormal. How can we overlook the other pandemics plaguing us, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or the fact that 70% of the total global population is overweight or obese? What about our domestic homeless epidemic that sees over 500,000 people sleeping on the streets on any given night? What about the inequitable and unequal distribution of wealth and access to health care and healthy food?

We must begin to realize that normalcy, or what is usual, typical or expected, is not at all what we need. We need a change. And we need it now.

A newspaper article from the Fairfax Connection, titled “A Bit of Normalcy in a Tumultuous Time,” discusses the issues around homelessness and the need for access to bathrooms and clean water. I ask, why is normalcy access to bathrooms and clean water for the homeless? Why isn’t normalcy the absence of homelessness? Governor Cuomo of New York stated, “I think you see the return to normalcy when we have an approved rapid testing program that can be brought to scale.” Why is normalcy approved rapid testing programs brought to scale? Why isn’t normalcy better education on how to strengthen our immune systems?

CNN published an article titled, “A Deep craving for ‘Normalcy’ goes up against the reality of Covid-19’s deadly risk.” Yes, Covid-19 is a deadly risk, but it’s no deadlier than a heart attack or cancer. However, because this virus (which is still widely misunderstood) is neither usual nor typical, nor was it expected, we’re told to be afraid of it. Why? Why has this become the most trending topic in 2020?

Every 37 seconds a person dies from heart disease. Every 30 seconds a new patient is diagnosed with cancer. In 2019, an estimated 69,000 people died from an opioid overdose. Between 1980–2014, obesity rates nearly tripled with no significant positive change in prevalence. And that rate is still rising. How is any of this normal? If we define normal as usual, typical, or expected, then yes this would seem to be normal. These afflictions have simply become a part of our paradigm.

For years, we’ve fought the war on drugs, the war on preventable diseases, and the war on obesity, but the numbers keep rising. Whichever war we are fighting, it seems like we’re losing.

Could the system be set up for the general population to lose because there is no money to be made from healthy people? In 2019, pharmaceutical companies made over $500 billion. Not because people were healthy, but because people were sick. In 2019, the fast-food industry made over $273 billion. Not by selling healthy food, but by selling convenient addictive food. What if we became a society that applauded preventative health and not allopathic health? A society that saw a drastic decline in reversible health ailments and a rise in overall quality of life? What if that was the new normal?

Tonight, at least 567,000 people will sleep on park benches, beneath underpasses, or in tents somewhere within a mile radius of where YOU live. Statistically speaking, the homeless population numbers had been decreasing from 2007–2016, that is they went from the mid 600,000’s down to 549,000. We can do better. We can end homelessness by implementing programs that improve mental stability and job preparedness.

Right now, hotels all around America are empty. Talks of opening rooms to those in need were being discussed. But lo and behold, the hotels are being used to house those that tested positive or have symptoms of CV-19. Why? So they can die together? For some reason, the homeless population falls through the cracks. Maybe their son or daughter, husband or wife, mother, or father had a hospital bill that sent them into debt forcing them to lose their house. Maybe they fought in the very wars that allowed us the privilege to be here, and now have PTSD and are unable to maintain any sort of stability. Good people, forced into bad situations. What if we focused our efforts on helping them? What if everybody had a roof over their heads? What if that was the new normal?

The inequity and inequality in this country are staggering. In 2017, Forbes released an article stating that the top three wealthiest people in America held more money than the bottom 50% percent of people in America. Yes, in 2017 the three wealthiest people had a combined net worth of over $263 billion, while the combined net worth of the bottom 160 Million Americans was around $245 billion. Let that sink in for a moment… Inequity and inequality have become the hallmarks of this country.

Gentrification is a stark reminder of this. One of its main byproducts is the push of people of color to specific areas that lack access to good schools, healthy food, and medical facilities. Then, as crime and death rates go up, more police officers begin to patrol the neighborhoods, more black and brown folks start to go to jail, the area becomes “unsafe to enter,” and the cycle perpetuates itself as the disparities in communities of color rises. This is “normal.” It is usual, typical, and expected, but truthfully, are people of color inherently more violent than their counterparts? No, we aren’t. Or are we forced into poor positions of circumstance? Yes, we often are. What if hope was provided in these areas? What if access to good education and healthy foods were brought in? What if that was the new normal?

I believe that we need to take a step forward and leave what was normal behind. By asking tough questions and taking a look in the mirror as a collective we begin to see that we are creators of our problems. After all, we are the total of the one. Every single individual plays a role by either standing up or sitting down amidst the divides that proliferate in America.

We have to stop looking towards people in power to choose what is right for us. Have we not learned anything in the last 60 years? It is time for the new normal: where basic human rights are normal, health is normal, happiness is normal, equity and equality are normal. A new normal. Not one with masks and gloves but one with compassion and love.

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