Stockholm, PE

When we can hug each other again. When we can party again. When we can get back to the stadium. When we can travel. When we can get back to the office. When we can go back to class. When we can get back to normal. Why do we have this obsession with normality, and why do we speak as if someone had to give us permission to return to it? We speak as if a captor had locked us up, and it is true, because after each hashtag we count the days left for this to be over, just like prisoners do. But all this time we gave the captor the false identity of a round, green pegamostro with horns that look like jacks.

Like the hostages in Stockholm, who empathized with and defended their abductor, we simply assumed that working 8, 10 or 12 hours a day in an office was normal. That bringing the laptop from work home at 10 at night or at the weekend was normal. That working full time for years and being paid on an invoice for services basis is normal. That if a boss harasses a colleague, it is normal. That if he or she tells us “You eat because of me”, it is normal. That if we must exploit common or morbid places of poverty, forced migration or femicide for a campaign without commitment, it is normal. That a work meeting with 49 people is normal. We fell in love with a system of beliefs and practices that were poisoning us and not satisfied with this, we believed that we had to defend it at all costs because we would not survive without it. We believed that “normal” and “healthy” meant the same.

Is that defence worth it? We are told that the quarantine was the captivity that separated us from all this pre-COVID 19 normality, and that after the damage to the status quo, returning to this “world as we know it” is really impossible, so we will move on to a “new normal” or “new next” that will be born as soon as the last week of national confinement is over. I think that, in reality, the captivity was not in the quarantine, but in the era that preceded it. The quarantine was only a non-place, a moment of shock and uncertainty / speculation to stop and raise awareness about the system that kept us kidnapped from our true potential for decades, to unlearn its rules and generate a new normality where we enhance productivity from well-being and sustainability, fighting to get away from inequitable and authoritarian schemes.

I do not want to ask for permission to return to a normality that was incubating -literallya lethal virus in itself. I want the end of physical confinement to mark the glorious dismissal of that toxic normality, and the rebirth into a new normal in constant motion, never romanticising it, where we will have to live with painful challenges, but where we will never fall in love with our cell again.

Illustration by Erick Baltodano.


Gabriela Sialer