With Spring in the air and vaccinations becoming ever more commonplace, there is much talk and anticipation of returning to “normal”. After the most abnormal year that we have all collectively experienced, it’s a natural sentiment.
When we pine for normalcy, it’s expressing an instinct to return to a previous equanimity, to go back to where we were in, say, 2019.
However, in the following year, Covid helped to expose huge cultural and structural inequities in the world of 2019. Millions of people of good conscience came to recognize more clearly than ever before the need to make fundamental changes not only in the fabric of our society but in the foundations of our particular perspectives.
Yet is there not an implicit antipathy between the urge for normalcy and this imperative to change? Perhaps we need to be more selective in our definition of the 2021 version of “normal” we so crave.
Last Spring, we hosted a Lane Lyceum with Prof. Deborah Helsing of the Harvard School of Education who, citing the book of the same name written by her colleagues Kegan and Lahey, described this tension as “Immunity to Change”.
Internally, as a system, we are oriented to retaining balance and equilibrium. We are magnetically oriented to “normal”. But Helsing described how our sense of “normal” – our habits, beliefs, and mind-sets – all combine to create a natural but powerful and largely unconscious immune system.
The reason change is so difficult – personally and collectively – is that the systems we have in place, which are mostly unexamined and unconscious, both protect us and provide meaning and context for our lives.
In this week’s Big Questions Forum, we’ll discuss “normal” and the consequences of our craving for a bygone equilibrium. As we begin to stray back out into the world, let’s discuss what the 2021 version of “normal” might look like for us, individually and collectively. What have we learned, individually and collectively, from a year of quarantine-imposed introspection?
This Big Questions Forum looks forward to a 2021 where we hope to find and create an even better version of “normal”! We hope you can join the conversation Tuesday at 7:30.