A week in photos – 16 – The New Normal

Amid complaints from small shop-keepers about being unfairly treated, the Federal Council has back-pedalled on the earlier opening of large stores, limiting them to the food section. The weather continues dry and relatively warm, starving farmers and their crops of much needed rain. Instead we have swarms of tiny insects. Talking about swarms, there’s growing debate about what comes after the lockdown, with the forces for the status quo clamouring for a rapid return to ‘business as usual’. Understandably, those who’ve lost homes and livelihood want out of the crisis. Yet their vulnerability, their marginalisation, stems from the ‘business as usual’ that pre-dates the crisis. A return to normal will ultimately only favour those who were already heavily favoured before the crisis. Not surprising then that they are amongst the most fervent supporters of a rapid return to ‘normal’, worried, no doubt, that a prolonged exposure to the ‘anormal’ might open people’s eyes to the need for change. Celebrating Earth Day this week, Greta Thunberg, in discussion with Johan Rockström, says, “We have to choose a new way forward.” Margaret Atwood, speaking on the Today programme on Radio 4, points out that the arrow of time moves ever forward and talks of a ‘new normal’. There’s nothing normal about the American President who, this week, encouraged people to drink or inject disinfectant as a cure for CoVid-19. Doctors hastened to insist doing so could be fatal. Another one of nutter Trump’s magic solutions, chloroquine, has proved fatal in high doses in use in a major hospital in the States. How much longer will the American people put up with this dangerous madman?

Postscript: In response to someone who sees our choice as between lockdown and a return to normal and can’t understand why we would hesitate to opt for the latter. It is not possible to devise a satisfactory exit from this crisis if you think in binary terms, opposing lockdown to a ‘return to normal’. It is a choice that offers no choice. Those who think in such terms have a vested interest in keeping things as they were, both those who profit from the status quo and those who enjoy bitching about it. Speaking of aiming for a ‘new normal’ rather than returning to the status quo opens exciting perspectives on the multiple options of a ‘third way’. This crisis offers a unique opportunity to turn to a different path. Let’s not be pressured into squandering it.

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