A New Normal; or, Could Our Public Servants Grow Up Please?
At the risk of offense, I am tired of the pissing contests, boys. Actually, weary of them. Fatigued by them.
Late Sunday Twitter sniping at Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of only two reliable voices to date in The Trump Pandemic, bore the hashtag time to #FireFauci.
Early Saturday morning, after allegedly making the decision to close New York City schools the night before, Mayor Bill de Blasio sent the Governor a text message informing him. The Times wrote, “The episode was a glaring example of the persistent dysfunction between Mr. Cuomo and Mr. de Blasio, an often small-bore turf war that has now resurfaced during an urgent crisis in which nearly 800 New Yorkers are dying daily.”
Bureaucrats and so-called experts taking a ‘war’ stance between worldwide health measures and local to worldwide economies. “Many Americans have responded by rejecting as monstrous the whole idea of any trade-off between saving lives and saving the economy.”
I want to ground them all for a week. No phones. No media. No screens. Bread and water. C’mon, you idjits, I want to say, the world is melting down around you. Grow the eff up. Now.
The Times’ Coronavirus news aggregator poses this question:
“When can we ethically bring people back to work and school and begin to resume the usual rhythms of life?”
Between us, I’m not sure it’s the right one.
I had a realization about this recently when I was working with a well-respected business coach. He set me to writing what he calls a Customer Focused Story. There’s a formula for it. I got through the first three sections and the fifth one swimmingly, but balked repeatedly at the fourth section. It asks for communication that’s not my usual style.
After dancing around my resistance, and using several of the spiritual tools at my disposal, I realized that it — Section IV — didn’t have to be my style. I didn’t have to ‘feel good’ about it. I didn’t have to agree with it. I just needed to use the expertise that was offered to me and do the work. Feels and agreements aside. So I did.
The implication in my process was that, somehow, I needed to feel good about it before I could do it. Why? I do all sorts of things in life that don’t make me feel good. Taxes and laundry come to mind. Don’t misunderstand. I love it when the taxes are done. I love having all the laundry in the house clean. Pumping gasoline is another one. I love it when Sister Mary’s (the car) tank is full. But do I like to pump gas? No, I don’t.
I don’t love the process of any of those things. I love the results.
Wanna bet Dr. Fauci didn’t sign up to be Jonah? Wanna bet that Peter Navarro never thought he’d be a prophet either? Wanna bet Dr. Deborah Birx never intended to hold the lives of anyone other than her direct patients in her hands?
Back to the I’m-not-so-sure-it’s-the-right-question: When can we ethically bring people back to work and school and begin to resume the usual rhythms of life?
First we can know, without any further research, that we’re looking through one lens, the lens of ethics. Second, The Times asked five ethics wizards the question. Well, you know and I know that when we ask a surgeon for treatment recommendations, she’s going to recommend surgery as the way to go. Because that’s what she loves. Duh.
Here’s how The Times characterizes their experts. “The New York Times Magazine has brought five different experts to talk about the principles and values that will determine the choices we make at that future point.”
Charlie Warzel, an Opinion columnist, asks it this way in the headline of his piece. “When Will Life Be Normal Again? We Just Don’t Know.” I won’t list here what we don’t know. If you want to know, read Mr. Warzel’s list.
Here are his last three:
“We don’t know when we might be able to return to a new normal.”
“We don’t know when any of this will end for good.’
“There is, at present, no plan from the Trump White House on the way forward.”
Just a threat on Twitter. “Governors, get your states testing programs & apparatus perfected. Be ready, big things are happening. No excuses!”
Usual rhythms of life
End for good
Mr. Warzel is right about one thing for sure. Whatever the normal will be, it will have to be new.
Not to shock you, and I’m sure I don’t, I don’t think that normal or usual are the proper goals here. I think that new, kind, and sustainable are the proper goals.
As The Times Editorial Board said recently in “The America We Need,” “[A]lready some politicians are asserting that the extraordinary nature of the crisis does not warrant permanent changes in the social contract.”
This sounds suspiciously to me like business as usual, same old, same old. Rich get richer, poor get poorer. Structural -isms remain in place. OWGs, as a client of mine calls them, in charge. Still.
One of the ethics panelists, Vanita Gupta, says, “Not everyone will experience the recovery evenly.”
Here’s an AA saying for you: If nothing changes, nothing changes.
There is a factor that will, guaranteed, influence every bit of recovery toward that new normal. That, not to be andro-centric, is the human factor.
While we may not know exactly how The Trump Pandemic will play out in the human psyche, and because no two humans are the same, it will be different in each one of us, we can know, we do know, that there will be an effect on each one of us.
“We need to think about this in the context of the well-being of the community as a whole,” said Princeton bioethics professor Peter Singer.
It’s so hard, isn’t it? Making considerations with a broad brush — the community. Or making considerations with a tiny brush — the individual. All five morals wizards began the conversation talking about trade-offs.
Mr. Singer names it a trade-off between “the loss of life and the loss of quality of life.”
The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber names a subtler nuance. “You know, as a pastor, I live with death. What I struggle with is not that people are going to die. I struggle with the history, in this country, of deaths not counting equally. … Much of that traces back to the structural inequities that make people more susceptible to this sickness — the lack of health care and a living wage.”
He goes on, “The virus exists on top of the underlying vulnerabilities, and those exist without major outcry.”
Zeke Emanuel gives us a clue as to how. “Everyone would have to opt in.” He was talking about how to open schools in a measured way, but it applies across the board. “You can’t just flip a switch and open the whole of society up. It’s just not going to work. It’s too much.”
It’s not a switch, Beloved. Certainly not a toggle switch. On / Off.
If it’s a switch, it’s a rheostat. Like the kind that is used in dining rooms.
The new normal puts the resurrection of the world economy, not just that of the U.S., on a rheostat. We’ll start with mood lighting, and raise the lumen slowly.
Emanuel continues, “Let me be clear: The kind of shift to reopening we’re talking about can happen only once we have a lot of other infrastructure that makes the public-health side of the equation work well.”
I’m back to new, kind, and sustainable. Anyone else?
Now I know, I surely do know, that these words — all words really — are subject to interpretation. That’s their inherent blessing and their equally inherent curse. On the other hand, my three words are easy to use for guidelines for choice. Which is what we’re really all facing as individuals, as parents, as family members, as co-workers, as citizens, all the way to, as governments.
Let’s ask these questions as we begin to surface toward a new normal.
Is it new? Or is it same old, same old?
Is it kind? Or would I make this choice if I had to do it in front of the one person whose opinion of me matters most?
Is it sustainable? Or would I make this choice if it were for the one person who is the most important to me in the world?
This is subtler than a quickie ‘do unto others,’ Beloved. Even that is a meme these days. What I’m asking is isn’t time we all grow up? Government included. And do the right thing because it is the right thing. Trade-offs and all.
Dr. Susan Corso is a metaphysician and medical intuitive with a private counseling practice for more than 35 years. She has written too many books to list here. Her website is www.susancorso.com
© Dr. Susan Corso 2020 All rights reserved.