We really don’t know what ‘normal’ is – but all of us want it. We want safety and security. We want to own our home, raise our children, attend school plays and athletic events. We want proper health care for our family. We want to go to work and receive a decent pay check. We want the Sunday afternoon ice cream social at our church. We want to cook on the grill and watch our favorite football team. We want to compete with our neighbors for the best lawn. We are willing to work, to participate, to volunteer. We just want our life back.
Our world feels like it has been derailed, sent off on the wrong track, disoriented. The four year cycle of political elections is upon us. The candidates are all trying to convince us that they are “The One” who best understands normalcy, they know where it is, and they know how to get there. Their campaign advertisements attempt to define a bright future for us. We are affirmed in our dismay by the advertisements – we are at war, Americans are dying, inflation is taking privilege from our children, more of us are unemployed, and we are racking up debt. Retirement is less certain. Access to health care is acknowledged as being deficient. This is not the American dream.
But what is the American Dream? Sometimes we become nostalgic. We think of happier times. We reflect on less troubled economies. We remember Christmas’s past. We remember the innocence of radio and television. Our memories tell us that Christian values were universally understood and agreed upon. We remember when we could service our own automobiles. We remember being more independent. We forget about atomic bombs, The Cuban Missile Crisis, Korea, Civil Right movements, Vietnam, War protests, disgraced politicians, and the KKK.
Yet we yearn for normalcy.
Our memories are selective and convenient. We cast aside the troubles of the past. Then we compare our present troubles to the pleasant memories. We look to community leaders, Ministers, School Board members, the City Council, State and National politicians – and we ask – What can you do to return us to normalcy?
Our expectations of American Institutions is misguided. But we are afraid, tense, anxious. We feel out of control – we cannot individually influence the cost of energy, the cost of food, the cost of health care – and even the safety of our children in a world gone mad with terrorism. So we look to institutions, church, school, government.
An election is upon us and we will vote for the person who best makes the case that he/she will return us to normalcy. We should all remember that we can never go backwards – we can only go forward. Forward into an unknown future.