Editors’ Introduction: Headlines call our attention to the demands and anxieties of “getting back to normal,” to the urgency of the economic “recovery” that many fear might take a generation to produce a standard of living of a quality as high as that enjoyed by those on the upper rungs of the economic ladder prior to the pandemic. The core peace education inquiry for this Corona Connection, arising from this Manifesto set forth by Latin American peace scholars is, “What standard of living should we aspire to, who should enjoy it, and how might we achieve it?” It suggests profound changes in what we hold to be desirable and attainable standards of living. In claiming that we will “make a path as we walk it,” the manifesto indicates that the change process they advocate will be a process of learning our way to a “new normality,” as we intentionally and actively strive toward it.
The Manifesto offers an opportunity for all peacelearners to contemplate “a new normality” and how we might renew the world to assure that our common life reflects the fundamental normative principles that underlie each of its ten points. As you and those you are learning with read and review it, try to articulate those normative values in your own terms so that the Manifesto might become a guide for action as well as learning.
A companion Corona Connection to this one, outlining a suggested reflective inquiry for action-learning will soon be posted, offering a means to deepen this first phase of learning. The learning it seeks to guide is toward the political efficacy on which the realization of the vision of the Manifesto will depend. These two Corona Connections constitute an integrated learning unit that we see as a source of hope for a more humane renewed world.
The Manifesto for a New Normality is the foundation of “A New Normal,” a communication campaign for peace promoted by the Latin American Council for Peace Research (CLAIP: Consejo Latinoamericano de Investigación para la Paz), whose purpose is to generate a stream of critical opinion of normality prior to the outbreak of the pandemic. This campaign aims to stimulate citizen commitment to the participative construction of a new just and necessary normality through awareness and collective reflection.
Manifesto for a New Normality
The deep world crisis we are experiencing today due to the SARS CoV-2 virus is a symptom of the sick normality in which we lived. The virulence of this crisis is magnified by a model of civilization which prioritizes particular interests over universal rights; privatizes surpluses and socializes losses; facilitates accumulation by the few through the dispossession of the many; and imposes a political culture which destroys life. Nothing is safe from the selfish of clutches privatizing policies which pretend to be public ones: not even the water we drink or the air we breathe. Even our scarce freedom is not safe and is now mixed up with our capacity to self-exploit.
The virus does not kill (as much) as the perverse normality to which we strive to return. A normality that consists, in the best-case scenario, of turning a blind eye while we continue to consume irresponsibly. In the worst scenario, it consists in aligning with those who loot the public budget to appropriate the final crumbs, or with those who squeeze every drop of sweat from others in order to multiply profits, at the expense of environmental destruction.
The preceding normality made us complicit in the production, reproduction and normalization of exclusion, hatred, poverty, pain, violence, fear, violation, frustration, depression and death. It was this normality that invaded our feelings and conditioned our desires and wills, that colonized our thought by hiding the ancestral knowledge of our people, granting more value to appearance over essence.
The normality we strive to unquestioningly return to is that of an anesthetized conscience, one that does not pay attention to the tremendous impacts of a corrupt and corrupting system we made our, one that does not pay attention to the systematic violation of rights that we end up renouncing, nor to the damage we end up inflicting on the most precious assets as evidenced by the poor condition of our healthcare systems: lacking in hospitals, ventilators and medicines, but full of vain hopes to avoid one more death.
One more death that reveals the urgency of a new normality:
- A new normality that guarantees the sustenance of life and attention to the material needs of the population: replacing the economic paradigm of overproduction, speculation, capital accumulation and exponential growth, with the paradigm of equitable redistribution of wealth, sustainability and good living.
- A new normality that restores value to life, based on care and respect, that takes into account future generations and puts an end to climate change, exploitation of living beings and natural assets, air and water pollution, and to the destruction of forests and beaches. A paradigm that understands us as part of the cosmos and as just another species in the Planet’s biodiversity.
- A new normality that replaces the paradigm of what is “mine” with the paradigm of what is “ours”, which recognizes that we are deeply interdependent, that there are no “others”, but one common horizon. A paradigm capable of promoting the full development of human potential based on the principles of simplicity, equity and co-responsibility in seeking a life that renounces unnecessary consumption.
- A new normality that replaces the logic of political representation with the logic of deliberative, direct participation. A democratic model that ensures the binding and proactive participation of the entire population, especially those who have been systematically excluded from political decision-making.
- A new normality that recognizes different forms of knowledge, and promotes their flourishing through the development of free and quality public education, not based on fees and quantity, but on the co- responsibility of all those involved in the knowledge construction process, and in dialogic, sentipensante (feeling-thinking), participatory and emancipatory educational strategies. An educational paradigm that promotes critical reflexivity, affection and solidarity between peoples.
- A new normality founded upon a conception of health that goes beyond illness; oriented towards well- being; that enhances diverse, ancestral and emerging knowledge; and prioritizes dignity, sovereignty of bodies, and the healing of violence. A health model understood as a universal right and not as a business, which guarantees free access to the COVID-19 cure for humanity as a whole, when discovered.
- A new normality that recovers the value of diverse memories, intersubjectivity and singularity; which recognizes diversity as an inherent human characteristic; and eliminates any form of domination and discrimination.
- A new normality that allows us to come together based upon our difference, in which our identities, eroticisms and joys are not penalized: where no violence is exercised by reason of gender or sexual orientation; with no human trafficking, nor femicides; where subjects decide over their bodies and desires, care does not befall upon women, and parenthood is understood for its political and transformative potential.
- A new normality that stimulates art and culture, understood as scenes of creation and experimentation which vindicate and renew our ways of knowing, inhabiting and sharing the world.
- A new normality promoting nonviolent action that assumes the construction of peace as a comprehensive and participatory process, and the emergence of conflicts as an opportunity for the development of cultures of peace and convivial models of synergistic attention to needs.
Because a new normality is possible and necessary, and we build it together making a new path as we walk. Nothing in history is written until it is written.
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