The usual, typical, or expected state or condition.
Normal describes something not good and not bad. Thank you for your neutrality, OED. For some reason, Normal is currently on the big bad list of negative adjectives, keeping company like plain (not the same as bland) and emotional (not the same as irrational). Normal doesn’t deserve its place on the big bad list. To be normal can be great, if great things are the normality.
It follows that normal isn’t bad unless bad things are normal.
Bad things are normal. The normal things I see often confuse me. I’m easily confused, but I don’t think that’s the problem here. I’m confused by the fact that so many nasty things are socially acceptable, commonplace.
Our normality: in many ways, a human can survive — nay, flourish — without knowing how to make real food for itself, or knowing that chips grew as a root in warm dirt, or what a cabbage looks like before its turned to tasty creamy coleslaw.
Everything we know is wrapped in plastic.
Plastic is buried in the aching earth and makes putrid soup of the oceans.
Forests fall to accommodate factory farms.
Wild creatures disappear forever.
There is more good food wasted than there are hungry people, and yet people still are hungry.
We buy new clothes produced by those working too long for too little.
We throw the old clothes into gaping wounds in the earth and pretend it didn’t happen.
It happens. We let it happen. We don’t make a fuss. These things are normal.
The good news:
Normal’s nature is fluid. The typical state — the expected — can so easily change. Normal can make it onto the list of positive adjectives (with wild, free, uninhibited, tidy, and all those equally subjective friends). We are shifting. We’re becoming a world where it’s socially unacceptable and quite abnormal to wear the products of forced labour or disregard the fate of the shrinking Amazon, and it’s normal to care, just a little, just enough. The change is now. This can be the new normal.
This normality will keep us above the rising tide.