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The New Normal

The Doctor is in!

I’m writing on Covid again, are we surprised? Don’t roll your eyes – keep reading. It might not be what you’re thinking.

As I write this many states are still in lockdown and enforcing social distancing through May or June, while others are re-opening.  Whether we are open, opening, or still closed the world will be different when we emerge from this crisis.

We only need to scroll through a social media feed for about a minute to see that this situation is bringing a lot of different responses to the surface.  It reminds me of the last time we had a crisis that made the entire country pause and take stock of their lives.

On 9/11/2000 at 08:46 AM the first plane hit the twin towers.  I was in anatomy lecture with Dr. Fitzsimmons learning about the autonomic nervous system, there was a buzz that ran through the lecture hall, a few of my friends left one in particular was from NYC and he left hurriedly and some others went with him.  This was the days before iPhones and wide spread cell phones, certainly no streaming content and social media was match.com.  What followed that day and the weeks and months that followed was a shared experience that bonded the country, stadiums went quiet, flights stopped, the stock market crashed, the world paused and reflected.  We came out of it a united country with a unified front and a strong sense of national identity and pride.

In contrast on 3/12/2020 I was at work and received notice that MSU was sending students home for the rest of the year, then I heard every university was following suit, and throughout the day event after event was cancelled and plan after plan was postponed, NCAA tournament, High School Tournament, school, spring break.  It was like a single thread had pulled apart the fabric of our lives.  What followed has been a 2 month gong show of Partisan bickering, divisive separation, people spewing things on social media that they wouldn’t have the courage to say to another person’s face.  We have seen economic collapse, skyrocketing unemployment, deep division between those who fear the virus and those who fear those in power.  There is no unity, there is no solidarity, there is no standing shoulder to shoulder to face all enemies.  Instead our brothers, our friends have become our enemies as their opinions and practices drive a wedge between us.

So yes as we emerge from this it will be a different world.  We will see masks on some and we need to accept that and support that, maybe its not that they are wearing it to protect themselves from those they come in contact with, they might just be wearing it to protect those they come in contact with from them.  It will be a different world because jobs and businesses will be lost and folks will need the support of others.  It will be a different world because it is apparent that government mandates can shut down states and economies based on mathematical models that support the particular hypothesis we want to support.  It will be a different world because that person who posted every day on everything from medicine to politics to economics will see you face to face for the first time in months and there won’t be a few screens and an ap separating us.

So what do we do as we emerge into this different world?  How do we emerge well?

Luke 6:31 in the Bible is a great place to start “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.  Think back to every fight you had with your siblings growing up and the way your mother chastised you.  If you don’t want Jonny to pick on you then don’t pick on him.  We need to emerge from this with grace.  We have seen the worst in people throughout  this especially as it has dragged on.  We need to recognize that people are communal, we are meant to live in community, close to others, interacting with others.  Why do we have social media in the first place?  Its another way to ‘stay connected’

The mental health burden we have all experienced throughout this time of separation has been incredible, in a matter of moments we can vacillate from a paralyzing fear of what can happen if we contract COVID 19 to an indignant rage at what the government has stripped away from us.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Emerge with grace.  Emerge knowing that the fears you emerge with are the same fears others have.  Emerge knowing the the same frustrations you feel are shared by those you will be seeing.  Emerge knowing that we face a common enemy who seeks to destroy and to separate us.  Yes the enemy we face seeks to separate us.  When Jesus started his ministry what was the first thing that happened after turning the water into wine? He was taken to the dessert to be tempted.  He was isolated, which made him more vulnerable.  He was tempted for 40 days, even to the point he was confronted with misapplied scripture to add to the temptation.  He emerged with grace.  Follow his example.

Emerging with grace will temper your response when you see people who have differing ideas from your own in relation to this crisis.  Emerging with grace will soften you and others as you begin to interact in a face to face manner.  Emerging with grace will allow you to put your own needs and desires to the side in order to attend to others.

When we can approach people and activity from a right mindset we can then experience the success we want in other areas of our lives.  Mental health will serve as a springboard for your physical health and paying attention to your physical health with a healthy diet and appropriate exercise will sharpen your mind and boost your mental health as well.

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