Back to Normal

Maceo Z. Keeling, Business Strategist and CEO of Asheville Business Accelerator. Photo: Urban News
Maceo Z. Keeling, Business Strategist and CEO of Asheville Business Accelerator. Photo: Urban News
The Conscious Corner by Maceo Z. Keeling, Sr. –

What is this preoccupation with getting back to normal?

Is it because “normal” was so wonderful for anyone before the pandemic seized our consciousness? We were already isolated by our individual challenges at work, our finances were problematic, and our home lives totally stressed out. Our priorities were so skewed by the variety of obligations and hurdles that confront us that we were led to the belief that money was the cure-all for our ills.

We are seeing nations around the world pouring money into their citizens to avoid a global fiscal catastrophe. That makes sense if the money pump is used to help families and individuals facing unemployment, long-term or permanent job losses, or the collapse of their small business investments—but not to prop up Wall Street corporations! What good is money if the crisis at hand is a matter of life and death?

Now we see the inequities in the healthcare profession and the disparities in the distribution of goods and services. We also see the underlying impact of overall poor health among our people. Our health is impacted not just by lack of care or access to providers, but caused or worsened by issues such as hypertension, diabetes, poor dietary habits, obesity, stress. And we’re seeing how that overall condition manifests itself in times of a global, and local, health crisis.

No, normal wasn’t great at all. We’ve long known the life expectancy disparities among racial groups; the younger ages at which African Americans suffer coronary problems, compared with the higher likelihood of survival among whites; the availability of treatment or transplants depending on income, insurance, and other non-health-related factors.

These facts have been known for a long time, so maybe this coronavirus challenge is also an opportunity to make changes. Big changes. Long overdue changes. Fundamental changes in our healthcare system and our society. It is an opportunity to reset priorities and relationships. It seems that the connections we took for granted have been placed in jeopardy not by the pandemic but by our own failure to get our priorities right.

“Back to normal” is a fleeting leaf blown by the wind, then it is gone. Who wants that “normal” back anyway. Let’s look Yonder!

Imagine a new normal, filled with pleasant greetings exchanged among neighbors. Imagine grandparents doting over their young ones with pride and love. Imagine no need for the fear that a cough or a sore throat could compromise the children’s wellness. Imagine that we humans become better stewards of our home, Mother Earth. Imagine no more poison in the air, no more pollution in the ocean, no more destruction of the rain forest; you can even stop littering the very neighborhood we live in.

These notions may seem like lofty ideals, but they all begin with you and me. We are the agents for change. We can create the new normal. We can make tomorrow different from yesterday, starting today!

We can smile and greet anyone we may see, with a smile that has not been masked by fear and illness. We can put down the soda and pick up a glass of water, put down the potato chips and pick up some fruit. Put down our fear and raise up love for each other. We can be slow to argue and quick to compromise. We can work this out on our own, for each other, and for ourselves, our families, and all our loved ones. We can make this world a better—if we make that choice!

Back to normal is admitting defeat. Instead, let’s take this opportunity to make our world and ourselves better than the old normal. Then and only then can we claim our victory!


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