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The new/old normal

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

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It was a turning point. I knew my thinking had to change, but I was confused. How I had faced challenges in the past did not measure up to the new demand. I was really tormented. Then I read this verse in the Bible: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things" (I Cor. 13:11).

I still remember my feeling of relief. My shoulders relaxed, and I knew I wouldn't betray earlier convictions by changing my modus operandi. It was all right to grow. I didn't have to hold on to old ways. Changing the way I looked at things and how I acted did not necessarily indicate that I had been wrong. It just meant that I had to embrace a higher standard for thinking and acting. In short, circumstances were calling for more mature, less self-centered reasoning.

This important change from old ways of thinking and acting has come to my memory recently as we hear about the "new normal." This new normal was replacing the old norms of materialism, indifference to family, and taking safety for granted. There is a recognition that a new normal exists but also that the "old normal" is creeping back.

There seems to be a consensus that the new normal prevails when it comes to being alert, even a bit edgy, about vulnerability to terrorist attacks. What is slipping back into the old norm has to do with something deeper. Immediately after the tragedy, many people took a good look at what was really important to them and adopted a higher standard for their lives. As time passes, though, this new normal appears to be losing significance.

The question now is, How can we keep from falling back into the inferior old ways. The answer, I feel, is to see what underlies the rush of a higher idealism. I believe that most of us know deep in our hearts that the good lived in loving our families, loving our neighbors, loving and helping those less fortunate than ourselves, is the norm we want to achieve.

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