Hybrid life needs local institutions

Last summer, I took an educational methodology class.

The instructor opened the class by asking the following question: “Why aren’t there dinosaurs roaming the earth today?”

He received the typical answers: A meteor hit the earth, there was a great ice age, climate change and other similar responses. Then he said, “No, the reason there aren’t dinosaurs today is because they didn’t adapt. If they had adapted to change, they would still be here today.”

His statement has weighed heavily on my mind in recent weeks. Probably 20 times a day I hear someone mention the term “new normal” to describe our current lifestyle.

I think it is time to find a more appropriate description for our daily life. We have been dealing with this pandemic for six months now, and by anyone’s standard I don’t think you consider that new.

For my part, I have christened it my hybrid life.

After all, a hybrid is defined as anything derived from heterogeneous sources or composed of elements of different or incongruous kinds. That is life today. There are parts of it that are just like it was a year ago, and then every day there is something new.

After all, nine months ago, Zoom was a sound a child made when they played cars and trucks. Today, like the rest of you, I now Zoom on a regular basis. I have adapted because I don’t see life without Zoom until there is something better, faster and easier.

The interesting point about our hybrid life is to a large extent, we are deciding what’s going to be a part of it and what parts are going to go by the wayside. We are making those decisions daily and probably don’t realize it. Some decisions may be easier than others.

Are we going to have Cousin Eddie as a part of our hybrid life, or will he continue to be relegated only to Christmas visits?

Perhaps something we haven’t given much thought to is what parts of our community are going to join our hybrid life.

Will our hybrid life have a volunteer fire department?

Will it have a library, an arts group, a community theater?

Will our children play youth soccer and baseball?

All of these are decisions we need to make. I say this because all these organizations depend on our donations and support to continue their operations. The past six months have been difficult for them to say the least. The next six may be even harder.

If they are going to be part of your hybrid life, then you need to embrace and endorse them, or they will go the way of the dinosaurs.

Imagine 20 years from now trying to explain to your young grandchild why his community doesn’t have a fire station or a library. Do your part now, and you won’t have to have that difficult conversation.

Jerry Brant


(The writer serves on the board of directors at the Pennsylvania Fire & Emergency

Safety Institute.)


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