How to Shape a New Normal in Volatile Times

How will you shape a new normal? Who do you want to be in this new world order? I ask these questions in reference to two major realities in the U.S today. 

First, I ask this question as more communities, including mine, begin opening up. I hear friends and family speak of how they can’t wait for things to return to normal. Here’s the thing; there’s no going back. We can only move forward. There are large parts of our lives that will never be the same because of external factors. And then there is the change that we can control; the internal factors. Beautifully and magically, we do have a choice. We decide how we emerge from this period of isolation that drew the line between who we were and who we will become. 

Protesters hold sign saying "stop racists attacks. Unite & Fight" are taking steps to shape a new normal
Photo Credits: Henry Be

The second provocation is the grim systemic racism in the U.S. underscored by the outrageous murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN last week. The protests and riots demand that we DO NOT return to normal. The norms that allow the abuse and death of anyone based on the shade of their skin cannot be sustained. They are tearing at the fabric of our nation. We can not and must not return to these injustices of humanity that are so deeply entrenched. We must pull back at the bias layer by layer. We must do the hard and necessary work to heal.

Perhaps it all feels too overwhelming to shape a new normal in times of a pandemic, murder, and chaos. Perhaps you feel like its all too much. Maybe you don’t know what to do or how to make a difference. Maybe it would easier to turn off the news, close your eyes and wait for it all to go away. 

A red brick building with "Take Courage" emblazoned with large white letters on blue background. We need to take courage to shape a new normal.
Photo Credits: Diogo Nunes

No! In order to shape a new normal, we must pull our heads up, look at what we have learned, and direct our attention towards shaping better days. What have you learned from months of isolation?  Did you discover your strength, courage, and resourcefulness? You certainly have all of these if you made it through to the other side of this first phase of Covid-19!  Did you realize you have attributes that kicked your butt and that you want to release such as addiction, co-dependence, or rage? Now’s the time!

Use your strength, courage, and creativity to make a difference in this work towards ending the systemic racism. How? The simplest step is to examine your own individual contribution to racism. Look at the cultural bias that was laid deep within your subconscious from the time of your first breathe. This alone is hard work. And you are NOT alone in doing this work. There are incredible resources available online. No doubt there are groups in your community that are working diligently to dismantle all the ugly tentacles of this social disease. Get involved. Ask for help. Please see a shortlist of resources at the end of this post. 

A woman lying back with her hands covering her face in guilt, shame or disappointment much like the author feels
Photo Credits: Jannes Jacobs

Honestly, I know I have a lot of personal work to do. And I am scared of what I will find. A while back, my church started digging deeper into Building a Beloved Community that dismantles White Supremacy and all forms of racism. I started the work and attended a couple of powerful workshops. Then, as that group came upon its second wind, my body was crashing and I was really quite sick. I chose to put off doing the work at that time because I did not feel I had the strength or attention it needed. That in itself is white privilege. I acknowledge that with gentle remorse as it does not serve to beat ourselves up.  

In my new normal, I am going to look my fear in its face and dive deep. I am going to rely on the strength, courage, and resourcefulness that I gained not only during isolation, but also through managing my health crisis and ongoing challenges.  I am going to turn to my community resources and ask for help.

Two different multi-colored hands reaching out together in the same direction to help shape a new normal
Photo Credits: Tim Mossholder

How will you shape a new normal? 

What have you learned from the pandemic thus far?

What bias within your self do you need to work through?

Where will you start today?

May it be so!

Author's signature "Love & Light, Carrie"

Short List of Resources for Dismantling Racism (Feel free to comment with additions)

Books

  1. What Does It Mean to Be White by Robin J. DiAngelo
  2. White Fragility by Robin J. DiAngelo
  3. My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem
  4. New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
  5. 35 Must Reads about Racism

Courses

  1. White Racial Identity and Responsibility Workshop by Shannon Rohrer-Phillips

Resources Local to Annapolis, MD

  1. Anne Arundel Connecting Together (ACT)
  2. Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis Building Beloved Community

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