In his blog post today, Pastor Freed used this quote from George Bernard Shaw – “The only one I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me. The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them.” Freed also used a quote from someone whom I’m sure many of his readers never knew –“people who don’t change are in the cemetery” (Everett Dirksen). Dirksen was a U.S. Senator from Illinois who was a talented orator with a florid style and a notably rich baritone voice. Dirksen was a Republican and served as the Minority Leader from 1959 to 1959. Back in those days when there was compromise and collaboration between the parties in Congress, he helped write and pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968, both landmark pieces of legislation during the Civil Rights Movement. It is hard to even imagine the two parties compromising on anything these days.
Jack commented upon the changes that we all go through in our lives, from the size clothes that we wear to our opinions on things. Although some are slower than others to change, everyone has a different view of the world around them today than that had a year ago or ten years ago. That different perspective on the people and events that shape our lives lead us to different conclusions than we might have held in the past and hopefully to take different actions.
Sometimes events bring back to the surface thoughts that were always there, but which had faded. The events which lead to the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement brought back our memories of, and belief in, the inequities and injustice suffered by people of color that had faded into the background for many. Complacency oft fills the void left when commitment and compassion fade. Jarring events like the killing of George Floyd serve to snap those feeling back to the fore. Few remember that the Black Lives Matter movement actually went back to the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin and the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter was first used in 2013. America had become complacent again.
Certainly, the events of 2020 and the COVID-19 crisis have changed all of us. There is no way that anyone anywhere could have remained unaffected by this crisis. How has it made you different? How has it changed your daily life? What things have you done to make the best of a bad situation?
We see ads now telling us that there is no going back to the “good old days”, but rather that we must adapt, change and move forward in this new reality. The old ways have quickly fading away and new ways to work, to shop and to live are taking their place. Some are resisting those changes with all of their might. Many are frustrated and some have become depressed; others have quickly embraced the changes and are thriving. We all need to be more like the tailor in today’s quote and take new measurements of life around us. We need to tailor new responses and fit into the new reality because it is not going to change to fit us.
I believe that the thing that through us off the most was the speed of the changes that the COVID crisis caused. It certainly wasn’t a slow, orderly change in most people’s lives. All of a sudden most of what you were used to doing was off limits or restricted. The people that you were used to seeing and hugging and talking with were gone – even family members were admonished to stay apart if they didn’t live together. Our world was turned upside down and many of us fell on our heads. Some were left hanging; clinging to something (anything) familiar from the past. We desperately hoped that things would get “back to normal”. Then we were introduced to the term “the new normal” and we knew that there was no going back.
So, here we are living in the “new normal”. Most (thought unfortunately not all) have accepted and gotten used to changes like wearing masks in public to protect each other. We have adapted to social distancing in restaurants and stores. We have shifted much of our shopping and entertainment and even our church services on-line. Slowly, most have refocused from grudging defiance of the new normal to an attitude of making the best of it and finding new ways to live fulfilling lives under the constraints that are out of our control. There will always be the angry, the defiant and the unhappy among us; there always has been, even in the times before COVID. You do not have to try to fit with them. They will either come round to the changes that are required by the new normal or they will end up were Dirksen predicted. There is no bouncing back; so, it’s time, as the current Verizon ad says, to spring forward.
Make the changes in your life to fit into the new normal and get on with life. It’s a new day and you need to be a new you.