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Build Back to What…?      by Andrea Carey

We have been in this hiatus from “normal” this suspended animation of the pandemic. For many this has led to even more busyness and demands than ever before, and for many it has led to grief, trauma, innumerable changes and challenges. There has been no consistent experience – between each other, between communities, across identities, across provinces or nations. It has been uniquely difficult for each person.

We have often heard the phase “Build Back Better” throughout this. The question now is really what are we building back to? And what does building back mean when the former reality was not serving many people in so many ways. This quote by Sonya Renee Taylor is so articulately worded around this and our inappropriate desire for the return to normal:

“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was never normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, My friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.” 

Sonya Renee Taylor is a black, queer, body-positive activist and author of “The Body is Not an Apology”.

We are definitely not going back to what was – not after 18 months and so much change and reckoning. We are building new. Everything will have the opportunity to be new. Our decisions will determine if these are better or worse – and for whom they are better or worse. Our opportunity to consider our collective humanity and the responsibility that comes with that is daunting, but we don’t have to solve this at once nor do we have to solve it alone – the more we can take collective approaches, and involve the voices that we haven’t heard from previously, the more the new can be an inclusive way forward.

There is no going back. It is scary. It is a new way of being. It requires vulnerability. It requires empathy. It requires learning – constantly, and unlearning, consistently. Sonya Renee Taylor goes on to say that this is our opportunity to create – to seek authentic connection, to be reliant on each other and not the systems, to elevate and honor and applaud the people who have proven themselves so important to our very existence. I appreciate how insightful these words were – especially spoken at the end of March 2020 when this was still in it’s infancy. I would further encourage us to consider how tired each of is – and for so many reasons – that fatigue is showing up and is not supportive of the ways we need to then show up to navigate this “next”. It is a critical time to look at what is needed to support yourself – what are those crucial things you need to do for you, each day, each week – that will allow you to charge your batteries. You need to take care of you so you can take care of others. The tools we need now more than ever are empathy, love, connection, communication, and collaboration.

As you navigate this fall, and the new beginnings that are in front of you, what choices could you make that are different than the choices you would have made before? What are you doing to support you? What can you do to support those around you? How will you know what those around you need and want? Who are you not connecting with yet but know that you should?