Normal, Abnormal

California is experiencing a severe drought. Scientists, counting tree rings, report it to be the most severe drought in 500 years. The situation is abnormal. Meaning “not normal”, yet every article I read about it bases its predictions on “normal”.  So far rainfall in San Jose is only 40% of normal and based on normal trends, it would have to rain twice the normal amount through June in order to end up “normal”. Why should “normal” ever be the expected given an abnormal situation? There’s some logic here I’m missing. We have based our entire civilization on supposed “normals”, based on partial information. We plan for the way it’s been recently, as far as we know. We freak out when things aren’t always the way we thought they were.

Normal is continually being updated and redefined as “the way things are now”. You see it everywhere. People get used to all sorts of conditions. We adapt. We’re good at that, and then things change; we complain and then adapt again. Recent uproars about how traditionally-published authors could make a decent living (for a brief spell) or how musicians actually made money off of records (for a short time) or how everyone could qualify for a mortgage (while it lasted) or how you could have a chicken in every pot or a white picket fence and a house in the suburbs and a good union job and we all forget that before those “bubbles” there was the old normal, there was the Great Depression right before that Rise of the Middle Class, there was the old normal of scabs and Pinkertons and Oil Barons, when the parents and grandparents of that Middle Class baby boom generation were jailed and shot for organizing and demanding such outrages as the forty hour work week and the right to vote (for females and non-whites). “Normal” hasn’t been normal since before the Industrial Revolution, maybe not since before the Agricultural Revolution for the Western World.

At the same time, some things are a lot slower to change! I was wondering , about the great monotheisms, is there a real endgame in sight? Is there a point where the God would be satisfied, would say, “all right, it’s cool, enough of you believe now, so that’s it for the earthquakes and floods and disease and starvation. We’re good”? Because it’s been hundreds and thousands of years and evangelism continues unabated despite the lack of any universality in sight. Does anyone really see getting 100% of the people in their group? And if not, is there an acceptable percentage, or does it just go on and on and on?

 

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