Ulmer: Norms aren't what they used to be

Ulmer: Norms aren't what they used to be


I’m not sure about you but I’ve usually considered myself to be fairly normal which is defined as average. I then discovered the term norm and found that defined as the principle of performing the right action which binds members of a group that guides, controls or regulates proper and acceptable behavior. No society lacks norms governing conduct.

So if I got this right norms define what’s normal or average and although I’m probably just an average guy there have been times when I’ve thought I was both above and below average which may well indicate that I’m actually abnormal.

So far I’ve survived all these abnormalities but it hasn’t been easy. For instance both my loyal readers know that I’m a Democrat, but thanks to the fires of reality I’m not what many right wingers would label as a liberal. Rather I’d consider myself a tad left of the radical middle which means that my heart bleeds compassion. But unlike a compassionate conservative that’s more interested in preserving the norms, I’ve had an inclination to ask why not more than why.

Those who wonder why we shouldn’t mess with the norm are often either above the norm and not interested in raising those below the norm and lately this has become normal. Thus it would be my thinking that those who are ultra conservative are those above the norm that believe their sole task in life is to remain there. They have theirs and those who don’t be damned.

Most of these folks consider themselves normal because conservatism has presently established the norm, i.e. I got mine good luck getting yours. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t all bad, but it does have a tendency to create an environment where a significant portion of the have nots are prohibited from reaching the present norm.

Here lies the rub, history has shown us that the norm has always been a struggle between the haves and the have nots and once the have nots outnumber the haves some sort of rebellion occurs (think French revolution where the have nots were told to "eat cake").

Fast forward to the norms of today and you’ll find yourself wondering what those are because each of us has personalized perception of what’s normal. Normal for me is likely to differ from what normal is for you, so let me list a few of mine for you to compare.

For me proper and acceptable behavior that binds us together (the norm) involves being truthful, taking responsibility for my actions toward others, leaving room for and respecting others, in essence, I’ve discovered that trying to leave this place better off than I found it doesn’t center around what I did for myself rather what I do for the world around me.

Thus given all the division, lies, half-truths, obstruction, that our political leaders are presently engaged in, I’d have to say that the norm ain’t what it used to be, and I have to wonder what the new normal will look like and how it will affect our future. If we the people accept all the crap/lies/cover-ups that we are presently being fed by our leaders I fear for our futures.

We are a country of people who pride ourselves in our ability to live under the rule of law (in particular our constitution) and if we allow the present abuse of our system to continue the new normal will not be a pleasant experience. If you look back on what I said earlier I did admit to being abnormal so feel free to disagree. 

Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, as well as a retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public employee, nonprofit executive and opinionated citizen who believes that we need to do what we can to leave the world better off than we found it.


Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News