4/26/2020 – by GL Franklyn
While struggling, like most of us, to find a new normal in the age of the New Corona Virus, I’ve had some time to think. Something I’ve been repeatedly cautioned NOT to do, as I so often over-do it. None-the-less, I fear that we will pass up a perfectly good opportunity that is staring us down, as I write.
FaceBook and Instagram are particularly entertaining as we all try to be conscientious about Staying at home to “Flatten the Curve” of people overwhelming our health care system and/or dying from the disease. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Samuel L Jackson’s parody of the famous children’s book for adults, “Go the EFF to Sleep”. In Jackson’s new reading, we are encouraged to “Stay the EFF at HOME”. We also learned that we don’t know the people we thought we did, as they reveal hidden talents, now that everyone can have their own show on FaceBook, Instagram and Zoom. This is also the week that President Pinocchio suggested that we break out a rig and mainline some Lysol to cure ourselves of the virus. While all of this is entertaining, to be sure, It’s also telling of my point today.
It appears that we are all stumbling around trying to settle into what a new normal might look like. This virus has shaken our whole way of life. All the little things we have been trained to take for granted aren’t available any more, or are changed radically enough that we’re thinking about them now. When what has been occupying the bulk of our attention on a day-to-day basis is radically shifted like it is now, many of us are kind of lost. We, as a nation, are being slapped around really hard right now, with the realization that the focus of most of our lives has been growing more focused over the last several decades.
That, in itself, isn’t the problem. What the problem IS is what that focus is directed to. It isn’t directed to that dream you have of breeding and raising horses or dogs or that pleasure you get from making or playing music, writing that novel, painting that painting, becoming that Pop Star, designing that perfect dress/suit, producing that travel magazine show, that cooking show, building that cottage, starting that farm or inventing that next little gizmo that will revolutionize how the world thinks about (fill in your passion here).
No, that focus is sharpening and it is being directed, like a lazer, at MONEY! It’s about rent/mortgage payments, car payments, food, medical care, higher education to get a better job to get more MONEY. It’s almost like the dues you have to pay to be able to do what lights up your life, once in a while. Being freed from that focus, even if only for a moment, is showing us just HOW MUCH of our existence is consumed with that one pursuit. Without it, we are momentarily lost, stumbling around trying to settle into what a new normal might look like.
This presents us with, what I see as, the greatest opportunity we have had in my lifetime of 68 years. All of these closed businesses along the streets where I DO travel. How many of them will Not re-open when this is all over? All the employees of those businesses. What will they do now? Big Multinational corporations will survive, but too many of the little guys, the bedrock of the US economy, will be gone. One of those memes firing around FaceBook says something to the effect of “think about what parts of ‘Normal” you want to rush back to when this is over”.
That’s our opportunity! It’s going to be different after this and we have the opportunity to decide what that is going to look like. Personally I favor a model kind of like the economy of the 40s and 50s, only in the sense that one adult could earn enough, individually, to maintain a home and family at a decent standard. I like the idea of one adult holding down the home fires while the other hunts and gathers. It would be even better if those roles could be interchangeable. We could decide that Health Care is a human right and stop exorbitant profits from being made from it. We could decide to limit the size and scope of what a “Corporation” can be. We created the legal concept we call a corporation, we can also legally define it to keep it from being a danger to the whole economy if it becomes “Too Big to Fail”, where it could damage the economy as a whole if it fails.
We can create a system that encourages families to start and run local farms, by limiting how much land one entity can use for that purpose. We can decide that housing is a human right. We could decide that education doesn’t have to Tailor itself to a specific outcome, but, rather, tailor it to the student’s interest and aptitude instead. That how expertise is developed.
Freeing ourselves from the restraints of income inequality could open up a whole new direction to create a new system that can be adjusted to work better for everyone. Let’s face it, at present, the bar is set pretty low. As they say in Missouri, “I Can’t dance and it’s too late to plow,, might as well!”