There is something about being a normal person that’s comforting. I know that, because apart from living frugally in the Caribbean as a self-employed dilettante, I’m a quite normal person, enjoying quite normal things. Okay, I’m no television and football fan, like most males in my age, and I hate cars. But I enjoy Hollywood cinema and cold beer, so there you have it. We’re all normal (as we’re all weird), to a certain extent.
The comforting thing about normality is this: If you are normal and enjoy normal things, you don’t stand out. You don’t have to worry, you don’t have to care. You don’t have to demonstrate against the government, because you like the normal way things are going. You don’t have to eat healthier, because you’re okay with having a normal figure and a normal life expectancy. You don’t have to kill yourself at work, because you come along with a normal paycheck, and you’re happy with your children going to a normal school.
The problem is that normality can also be a comforting way of ignoring our problems and making them worse. It can become normal to see your uncle drink half a bottle of whisky each day, but in reality, he is becoming an alcoholic. It can become normal to read that each year there are less albacore tunas caught in the Mediterranean sea, but in reality, we are extinguishing them. It could even become normal to see BP destroy our oceans because of unbelievable greed, but in reality, it’s not. It’s doing the wrong thing – and it’s us who are doing it, it’s us who are responsible, because we are living a lifestyle of unsustainability that has become our current normality.
Alcoholics, extinction of species, and the pollution of our planet caused by our addiciton to oil may be as normal as underarm hair. But just because it’s “normal”, we don’t have to accept it. If things were different, why would we shave our armpits? Why would we invent pain killers, if pain is something completely normal? Why bother about using condoms, if AIDS is normal?
Normality doesn’t exist. It’s always a question of our point of view and our interpretation of reality. Whatever we are doing (or not doing) that feels wrong, we are free to change it at any moment of our lives – even if it appears to be normal. We may as well start here and now.