Getting back to ‘normal’ requires effort, but it’s worth it

“Normalcy” is a popular word these days, probably a lot more so than it would have been, say, two or three holiday seasons ago when everything pretty much, well, normal.
I’m basically pointing out the obvious to note that almost everything we do these days is impacted by that phenomenon that none of us really want to think about, but which we can’t avoid because it affects us at every turn, a microscopic virus.
Still, it’s encouraging that things are slowly recovering, returning to some sense of normalcy. The Chamber of Commerce, for instance, is forging ahead with its annual Distinguished Awards Banquet (page 8), the last manifestation of which was in early March of 2020.
The return of the Ralston Park Christmas celebration and the Christmas Parade, which drew crowds that had to be an encouragement to organizers and those feeling a lack of social companionship, were also indications that Lebanon is recovering.
Fact is, normal life is slowly returning, partly because people are making it happen. And that’s what needs to occur.
We’ve been in lock-downs and masks and we’ve struggled with authorities’ institution of mandatory vaccinations. Many of our kids are back in school, but they are not, by many accounts, where they would be if COVID-19 hadn’t raised its ugly head.
But we have nearly two years of experience under our belt now of dealing with this virus and it seems that one of the best medicines for our society and for us as individuals is: normalcy.
We’re not suggesting that it’s time to throw caution to the winds and forget about the danger of this malady. By now, we should all know people who have suffered with this thing and we know that it’s not just a case of the flu for most, and much worse for some.
But at the same time, we’ve also had nearly two years to figure this out, to decide whether masks are helpful, to decide whether vaccination – forced or not – is an option to protect ourselves. A lot of people are ignoring businesses’ requests to wear masks, to the point that it can be a little confusing sometimes to know whether it’s really required.
State mandates aside, the reality is that a lot of these decisions have already or are rapidly becoming personal ones. But the options are there for all of us, and it really should be a personal decision – not a state mandate –to determine how we deal with the risk that’s out there.
If masks or screens make us feel protected, then that option is right there for us to employ. If we decide we want a vaccination, that is too. If we feel we need to stay out of circulation, well, we have every right to sequester outside of work or other obligations.
One other consideration: Oregonians need to decide just how far they are willing to let public officials run with coronavirus protective measures.
The recent news that the Oregon Health Authority has assembled a Rules Advisory Committee to address making the existing indoor mask mandate permanent – for at least 180 days – does not instill a sense that officials are ready to give residents any leeway for personal responsibility in dealing with COVID.
Our state is one of the minority that even require masks for everyone, regardless of vaccination status. At last count, 44 U.S. states and territories don’t even have mask mandates.
I don’t mean to be gloomy here, but it is reality for us, the residents and voters of Oregon. There will be decisions to make in the coming months.
But meanwhile, there are opportunities for normalcy. Like that Distinguished Service Awards banquet, set for Feb. 18. Know someone who’s been particularly stalwart during this pandemic? Someone who stands out in their efforts to making our world a better place? Fill out the form.
But more immediately, we have the holiday season. Planes are flying. People are traveling. Families who spent last year apart are, hopefully, finding their way clear to get back together.
Get out and enjoy some interaction – mask or not.
And, amid the tumult of this pandemic, remember the original message of the Christmas many of us still celebrate: “For unto you is born this day a Savior, who is Christ, the Lord” who brings “peace on earth, good will to (humankind).” Luke 2
Have a blessed Christmas!