Hal Brady

Hal Brady

We seem to hear much these days about returning to normal when this coronavirus pandemic has eased. For example, Gov. Cuomo of New York recently said that it was OK for New York teams to return to training camp. He stated, “We want people to be able to watch sports. To the extent people are staying home, it gives them something to do. It’s a return to normalcy.”

No one is going to disagree with what the governor intended with his understanding of normalcy. He wants to assist numbers of New Yorkers who are mostly quarantined and bored. Watching sports for them would be part of their pre-pandemic routine.

However, there are other people who question the logic of this returning to normal, even if it were possible to define “normal.”

At any rate, let’s think of a few reasons we might not want to return to normal (the way things were before the pandemic).

So what has changed or has the appearance of changing in our country today? My oh my, I certainly can’t come up with everything and admit that some changes may be only temporary, but here are a few thoughts.

First, there is an increased religious interest and faith! Prior to the pandemic, there is little doubt that religion and religious interest were declining in our nation. And while there has been no remarkable turnaround during the pandemic, nevertheless, researchers have pointed out that more than half of Americans have called on God to end the spread of COVID-19, including some people who rarely ask for divine aid.

It is also reported that one-third of Americans who believe in God (37%) say they have grown closer to God over the past several weeks.

Second, a deeper appreciation of life! Two things enhance the value of time — its brevity and its uncertainty. The coronavirus has brought us face to face with the fragility of life. Consequently, many have developed a deeper understanding of life as God’s gift to us and a gift to be appreciated and celebrated every moment.

Third, a more active neighborly concern! While the pandemic has brought out some unfortunate traits in folks, it has also brought out much more overwhelming good in others. At this moment, I am recalling those who have helped others with groceries, those who have surrounded hospitals with their vehicles in a show of appreciation for medical personnel, those who stood on their balconies banging pots and pans displaying their “thank yous,” those who volunteered or gave to feeding ministries, those who comforted the isolated and so many others.

Fourth, a renewed commitment to family and friends! Recently, a friend shared that in at least one respect the coronavirus has proven beneficial in her family. She said that the pandemic has enabled her family to spend some quality time together, even allowing them to sit down and eat meals together.

Perhaps like you, I have watched football coaches, who usually would be at practice, being home and spending time with their children. In some instances these coaches would be lifting their children over their heads like weights, to the squealing delight of the children.

The point is that the pandemic has enabled quality family time for those families who have taken advantage of the opportunity.

Fifth, a clearer understanding of governmental responsibilities to citizens! Writing an article entitled “What is government for?” in “The Christian Science Monitor Weekly,” Ned Temko says that at least in places feeling the worst effects of the virus the task of government is clear. He writes, “The task of government has become acutely clear: Protect us and give us the information, policies, tools and care we need for that to happen.”

In effect, government is important and must fulfill its role, especially in a crisis.

Sixth, a noble sense of being in this together! During this pandemic we have realized anew that “no person or nation is an island.” Once more we have sensed our humanity. By ourselves and within our various groupings we are no match for the virus. It will take all of us working and praying together using our combined resources to overcome this deadly foe.

Interestingly enough, God’s dream is for all of us to always live, pray and work together as family-global brothers and sisters.

To be sure, there are other changes that should be noted such as a more creative technology, a more interdependent world community and a fresh concern for the best of leadership.

Thus, in light of even these mentioned things, and that is certainly not all, why would we want to go back to normal.

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The Rev. Hal Brady is an ordained United Methodist minister and executive director of Hal Brady Ministries, based in Atlanta. You can watch him preach every week on the Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters TV channel Thursdays at 8 p.m.

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