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Our Christmas tree is up.
Our President-Elect tweeted that 2 million people voted illegally.
I’ve been eating a knock-off brand of Honey Bunches of Oats for breakfast.
At Ohio State, a person wounded eleven people with a knife and a vehicle.
I’ve laughed recently with friends during phone calls and texts.
Indigenous water protectors have been wounded by water cannons in freezing temperatures.
These thoughts have been on my mind lately. In the whirlwind of recent events, I am concerned about violence and marginalization in our nation. And amidst it all, I’m concerned for our mental health too.
These challenging events, decisions, and ongoing actions are real and dangerous. They deserve thoughtful reflection and our decisive action. But they are not normal. Even if they become repetitive, God forbid, we cannot afford to normalize them. For the sake of our neighbors, our communities, and our own mental health, we cannot normalize these kinds of experiences.
On Sunday night, I thought about all these and more, and I struggled to sleep. Then, as I lay there wide awake, I had a realization that kind of blew my mind: The leak of the Access Hollywood video – a supposed turning point of the election, marked by braggadocious claims of sexual assault, and followed by the emergence of accusations from twelve real women — took place less than two months ago. This was not the first controversy concerning Donald Trump, but it took over social media for days and reignited emotional pain for people who have endured traumatic abuses. More than a million women shared their stories of sexual assault on Twitter under the hashtag #notokay.
And this took place only seven weeks ago.
Think of everything that has happened since. . . We cannot afford to normalize all of these experiences or let them pile on so large that we forget what has happened previously. We have to de-normalize the not normal.
And in order to resist and work for change, we also have to re-normalize what is normal.
Joys still surprise us.
Relationships still provide love.
Nature still reveals beauty.
Food still nourishes.
We still matter, as do our neighbors.
We ground ourselves in the abundant gifts around us, including each other, so we can mount an abundant response.
Let this be our mantra when we’re overwhelmed:
Re-normalize the normal.
De-normalize the not normal.
See also this tremendous sketch from Saturday Night Live . It shows how challenging news can become increasingly normalized.