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The Pandemic has left indelible scars on all of us. Right from our working models to our living arrangements, there is no sphere of life that has been left untouched. Whether it be financial, emotional, psychological, or physiological, the effects of the Pandemic linger. Some of us lost our loved ones. Others suffered from not knowing when this nightmare would end. Be it the layperson or the most powerful men and women in the world, Covid has been a Great Leveler. Moreover, there is no certainty when we would resume our “normal” lives and more importantly, whether this is the New Normal wherein we live precariously not knowing if any of the Delta and Kappa variants would wreak havoc yet again.
As the United States and some countries return to Pre Lockdown modes of living and working, some experts insist that it is Business as Usual. Is it? Really? When scarred Americans quit their jobs in large numbers and when they insist on permanent or Hybrid Work models, it is sure that the Pandemic has played on their minds and has “altered” their perceptions of what it means to be professionals and workers in the Post Covid Economy. While we celebrate Vaccination Rates and the like, we are also confronted by Vaccine Resistant Mutations of the Virus that threaten the Nascent Recovery, if we may call that.
It’s almost as though that humanity has gotten used to living in a Permanent Limbo where we lurch from Lockdown to Lockdown and become addicted to Fear Porn that makes us susceptible to Doomscrolling on our Smartphones. Have you noticed how our minds “instinctively” look for bad news and even when we come across some good news, we immediately, begin to pick holes and find flaws in such reporting. Is this because of our Hyperventilating Media whose coverage borders on Hysterical and whose incessant Drumbeat of Gloom and Doom have made us Zombies in search of the Next Feast of Human Folly.
So, is this The New Normal? If so, will it remain the New Normal before another variant makes it the New New Normal? Without much physical activity, we remain glued to our Gadgets and Digital Devices, so much so that we are caught up in the Virality of the Moment, forgetting why we must not abandon the Longer Term. In short, Present Shock has set in wherein the Lure of Instant Gratification blinds us to anything but the Immediate Moment. Otherwise, why we would we be subject to Hundreds of Friend Requests on Facebook one day and Unfriending the Next Day. Have we become so Blinkered that what matters is our Ego massaging and nothing more, leaving us at the Mercy of the Digital Gods.
Some might say that we have Lost the Plot as far as modeling and forecasting of Black Swan events are concerned. If not, why would the Best Minds in Science and Finance as well as in Business unable to say for sure what the Future holds. Or is this the culmination of a Long Cycle of Uncertainty that began with the Great Recession of 2008. Remember how were told that it was the End of the World as We Know it. While humanity did recover from the Crash, albeit in a very uneven manner, it looks as though the Pandemic is the Real McCoy and hence, “The” End of Normal.
I might be wrong. Given the strangeness of the present times, who knows if one day we might all wake up and realize that Normal is here. Or, the New Normal, or whatever we call it. Our problems might disappear, if one believes in Fairies and Magic Wands. Or, some brilliant scientists might give us the “breakthrough” that we are looking for. Of course, Messianic Thinking is alright as long as it does not produce a Trump or a Bolsarano. On the other hand, we might “conquer” the Coronavirus, just like we overcame disease and deprivation. So, there is still hope for the return to Normal.
However, what is galling are the Gross Inequities and Inequalities which the Pandemic has brought into focus. The Rich have become Richer and the Poor Poorer and this is definitely not Normal. We risk social unrest if we return to this Normalization of disparities in access to healthcare and education, not to leave out, denial of human dignity and poverty. So, it is time we addressed them if we are to celebrate the New Normal.
Last, as we wake up each morning, not knowing how the uncertainties of the day are going to play out, there is a need for a New Social Contract, lest the Glue that binds humanity and keeps society from rupturing tears and the social fabric lies in tatters. There is nothing more urgent than forging a New Compact between the State and the Citizenry if we are to emerge from this Dark Phase in History with a New Purpose and hopefully, birthing a New Renaissance.
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