Return to Normalcy

Return to normalcy. It was a phrase coined by U.S. presidential candidate Warren G. Harding, who during his campaign of 1920, promised to return war-weary Americans to a “pre-world war mentality.”     

Harding orated, “America’s present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate; not experiment, but equipoise; not submergence in internationality, but sustainment in triumphant nationality.”     

In short, Harding sought to help every day Americans to shed the mental and emotional pre-occupation of World War One that had consumed our lives so that they could return to their normal lives and focus on their families and businesses.

While I would never compare the hardships we face from the coronavirus today with those of the courageous soldiers who fought in the ‘war to end all wars,’ we could all certainly use a return to normalcy.   

I don’t know about you, but I’m already virus-weary. I’m tired of standing in lines. I’m annoyed with the Purell police, and I’m frustrated with searching for toilet paper as if it were the treasure of Sierra Madre.     

Of course, we don’t need a pandemic to remind us that there are some things in our lives which are simply out of our control. Bad weather, car accidents, a cancer diagnosis and other tragedies happen every day. It’s part of the human existence 

Nevertheless, how we respond to uncontrollable events is within our control. There are no perfect solutions but I believe a return to normalcy is within our grasp.     

Despite COVID-19, individuals can easily gain a sense of normalcy by spending time with family, going for walks, watching a favorite movie and other activities that have always been part of their daily lives.     

For businesses, however, it’s a little trickier. During uncertain times, it’s normal for many business owners to tighten their belts. The human reaction is to hold on to cash reserves, spend nothing, stop marketing, and hunker down. But, while that reaction might be normal, it’s not necessarily a good business strategy. Hunkering down can mean lost sales, reduced revenue, laid off employees, a weaker local economy, and diminished brand awareness.     

In times of uncertainty, business owners should be flexible and quickly adapt to the new — and most likely temporary — marketplace.   

 I like to remind business owners of the story of Wrigley’s gum and how Wrigley’s became the No. 1 chewing gum brand in the world. It’s always been inspiring to me.     

During World War II, the U.S. government ordered rationing for all sorts of products and manufacturing ingredients, a move which forced Wrigley to stop production. Wrigley had no product! However, he responded brilliantly. Wrigley launched an ad campaign that said “Remember this Wrapper” and that advertising kept the Wrigley brands on the minds of the customers throughout the war. When the war finally ended and the ingredients to make chewing gum had once again become available, Wrigley’s was the only chewing gum brand anyone still remembered.     

So, yes, we are in trying times. But this is not a time to hunker down. It’s a time to adapt. Our schools adapted with ‘distance learning’ for students and meal delivery via school buses. Many restaurants in our community adapted with take-out menus. Some businesses have introduced new delivery services. Of course, wouldn’t you want to market your new and modified services to let customers know you’re still in business?     

The coronavirus will pass. It may fade with a whimper, or it may go out like a bad-tempered kidney stone. But either way, we will return to normalcy, and the manner in which we adapt now will help determine how well we emerge when the storm clears.

By John Meng, Publisher/Editor

Jackson County Herald Tribune

306 N. Wells
Edna, TX 77957