New Normal vs. Old Normal

I don’t want to return to the old normal. That old normal is what got us into this mess in the first place.

In the old normal, we destroyed thousands of N95 masks because they had expired. Nobody blinked. Our supply chains for food and medications were long, singular, and passed through weak and uncontrollable pinch points.

No, I don’t want to return there. I’m confident we can do better. I see a new normal addressing the poorly thought-through solutions of the past and finding new and creative solutions for our future. Yes, we’ll make new and unique mistakes.

One of the first changes we could make in our thinking is larger, higher and more is better. The second is we expect the other guy to get the decisions right the first time.

I read recently that the number of houses for sale across Canada fell 14%. It was labelled as a tragedy. In a new normal, a lower number of houses for sale could be seen as a very positive sign. Perhaps more people didn’t need to move from their home with each change in employment as telecommuting reduces this need. Even a 10% increase in stay-home-to-work would slow the number of houses for sale. Fewer house sales would indicate a strengthening of neighbourhoods with higher resident stability.

The old normal had us expecting that political leaders got it right with every word they spoke. We expected their policy initiatives had to be right the first time. Any tweaking or accepting of ideas from others showed weakness.

The daily briefing by the Prime Minister showed us a different possibility. Have a comprehensive view, such as having the backs of all Canadians. This becomes the test filter for subsequent policy and operational details.

Gather together the key stakeholders, then determine policy and detailed implementation. Wait. Listen to feedback. Adjust the details. Repeat.

Believe it or not, this would have been the most daring of behaviours for any political party leader in the old normal.

I encourage older adults and seniors to pause during this stay-home pandemic. When something doesn’t feel right, ask yourself how much of that unease is mainly due to something being different.

Try reading, listening and watching those sources you know will often have an opposing viewpoint that you usually have. It doesn’t mean you should accept the ideas. Just give them an honest think through. Take what is useful and leave the rest.

When universal health care was first introduced in Saskatchewan, opponents declared it would be the end of health care. Now we defend it as being a cornerstone of Canadian identity. A new normal is scary. It has more unknowns.

I believe we all still have enough resilience left to thrive in a new normal.

My thanks to St. Albert Seniors Association: 780-459-0433 for making this Blog possible.

Glenn Walmsley