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Sunday, August 30, 2020

There is no ‘new normal’, we were not normal to begin with

In discussing the way forward with the Covid-19 pandemic, many have used the term “new normal” to describe the societal behaviour required for the future.
We would like to say that there is no “new normal” because we were not normal, to begin with. We have been abnormal as a society for a very long time.
Covid-19 has helped to unmask our sick society and systems that we have developed and evolved over many decades.
We are not normal because of:
  • the way we treat the environment and “rape” it for our use without thinking or caring for it. We have long abused this planet to a point that it is no longer sustainable.
  • the way we treat migrant workers, and devalue them into economic slavery.
  • the homeless on our streets and the poverty disparity in our nation and most other countries.
  • the poor funding and development of essential services like health, education and welfare (social services), to the detriment of the poor.
  • our corruption and double standards for laws and rules that apply only to some.
  • our broken communities that are increasingly divided by the growing wealth disparity.
  • our racial and religious divisions and bigotry that do more harm than help.
Psychotic society
We do not live as a normal society but an abnormal one. The virus has just helped to unmask and reveal this abnormal society that we live in.
We have often thought that we are a psychotic society, one out of touch with reality. The definition of psychosis is “a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality”.
So we have a collective psychosis, a collective denial of reality.
Our spirituality is very shallow and limited. We think of pushing our religion to other individuals without first having allowed God to transform us in a deep meaningful way.
True spirituality means that we have changed as a person, where our value systems now reflect God’s eternal principles.
It is time to stop chasing the meaningless value systems of this world of power, wealth, social status and acquisition.
They are failed markers of success, propagated by failed leaders who have not found truth and reality for themselves.
So, we need to aspire to become “normal”, a “new normal” if you wish, a new way of living where we respect our fellow man, the earth and all its other creatures and inhabitants.
Common good
If we do not embrace the gift this virus inadvertently gives us and allow it to transform us into a better people, then we will lapse again into the stupor of our previous psychosis once the Covid-19 crisis is resolved.
Downsize your life and possessions. Work for the common good of all. Share your resources freely. Treasure the environment and all creatures.
Disassemble the false structures of power, corruption, war, hate, religious and racial bigotry. Move to living in peace without the need to continually acquire and store up.
To those who have already been downsizing their lives and giving away more to society, you have our heartfelt thanks. Indeed, there are many ordinary, unsung, unnamed generous people in Malaysia. These are the light and hope of our nation.
To those who have more than enough for their own needs but are still undecided what to do with their excess wealth, we encourage you to try giving away to anyone in need, you will not regret it.
To those who have much, but want to choose to be a miser and refuse to part with even a little, we feel sorry for you, it is your own loss because none of us can take our possessions with us when we die.
The only possessions we can take with us are the love and care and friendship from people who remember us with fondness.
Every single person has something to give. We can give our time, our presence or support. Even persons with disability have much to give – their courage and perseverance in a world designed for the more able-bodied and mind.
If you are an employer, you can choose to pay your workers more, even above the minimum wage. There is no law to stop you from paying workers more. You can provide a more conducive working environment where workers are valued and appreciated.
We all have a choice to work towards a more equitable society where everyone can earn a decent wage, given dignity and respect as a human being, and be happy.
Or we can allow the great disparity between the rich and poor to continue to widen and to create a society where most people are not happy, even the rich who want even more, and are never satisfied.
So, let us as a people, as a society, as humanity realign our nations to one of sharing resources, equality, altruism, self-restraint, compassion and support of all.

Dr Amar-Singh HSS and Dr Lim Swee Im are senior consultant paediatricians. - FMT
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of MMKtT.

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