Thinking About Normalcy

by Fred Cederholm
Last week was fairly typical at our state capital in Springfield. We still do NOT have a budget, the Democrats and Republicans are hardly speaking to each other, bills are NOT being paid, and fingers are being pointed everywhere but to themselves. This is normalcy for Illinois politics.

I’ve been thinking about normalcy. Actually I’ve been thinking about the highs and the lows, my recovery, localness, the State of Illinois status, and the national scene. Ah... to return to normal. How often do we TH*NK about how good it would be to return the way things were? There is so much comforting about the “good old days!” Or... is there?

You see when we find ourselves looking down a long road of coming developments, we really do not like surprises. In times of change and danger, it is the uncertainty of things that gets to us. The real substance behind our warm fuzzies towards “the good old days” is that we know the outcomes, and we pretty much survived them. Sometimes we need to re-evaluate whether continuing down a so-called familiar path is the way we need to go. Normalcy is really about the expected, the “been there and done that,” and sameness. Just because this was the way it occurred, or played out, last time around does not mean it will be the same this time around. Norms, or what is expected, can be high (good) or low (not so good). We experience these norms on so many levels every day.

I am TH*NK*NG a lot about my recovery. I’ve come a long way since I was wheeled out of the nursing home last September. I’ve only used my four wheeled walker three times in the past two weeks. I am making progress, but things are still moving so slowly. I want to return to normal, whatever that was? I know that with determination, hard work, proper monitoring, and support I will get there. What I don’t have a clue about is how long the recovery to my “full normal” will take.

Most of our “normals” relate to the day to day or weekly/monthly activities which surround us in our “localities,” our “close to homes,” and our “communities.” This gives me comfort because Creston is such a special and active community. For example, last Friday was the April international fund raising dinner for the Opera House renovation. It was Cuban style roast pork with pineapple sauce catered by Headon’s and it was incredible. (WHOA!) Saturday 16 of us got together to celebrate the 70th birthday of our retired Pastor David Rasmussen. Again, it was an incredibly fun evening. Sunday saw the Creston Vintage Baseball Team (played in costume with 1858 rules) play Elk Grove Village and Oregon. (We won one and lost one). And, there was an organ recital at my home church of St. Johns to dedicate our new (to us anyway) organ. The four organists really outdid themselves. Such events are typical (or normal) for our community and everyone had a great time. These events fall into the “high” normals.

Last week was fairly typical at our state capital in Springfield. We still do NOT have a budget, the Democrats and Republicans are hardly speaking to each other, bills are NOT being paid, and fingers are being pointed everywhere but to themselves. This is normalcy for Illinois politics and has been for some time. An organized protest by 17,000 laid off teachers in the state was new to the mix. I fear that such demonstrations will become the norms in states and cities across the nation as hard choices are made and program budgets continue to be cut. Last Monday I received a plea for money from my Alma Mater, the U of I at Champaign-Urbana. It seems that the state now owes them just over $500 MILLION (yes, a half a BILLION!!!) in promised money for the “current” school year. Similarly huge amounts are unpaid all other state universities, community colleges, high schools, AND grade schools. This is a major crisis and will be the norm for who knows how long? Honest Abe Lincoln would be shocked by all this.

On the national level we saw a rising protest to Arizona’s coming crack down on their illegal alien problem. Let’s face it, our borders are a joke and the federal government is doing squat diddlely to fix it. Washington is irate that Arizona chose to seek a remedy when the national government chose to continue to ignore the problem. How dare they... and besides THIS is an election year??? While such may be a new “casus belli” (a conflict between states and the Feds), arguments over who can legally take what action have been the norms since our union was created back in 1789.

We also saw an assault on our gulf coast by a growing oil slick, a failed “terrorist” bombing attack at Times Square in New York City, the merger of two financially troubled major airlines (like making it bigger will fix anything), and a public hearing about the culpability of a HUGE Wall Street investment bank in our current mortgage/ real estate/foreclosure mess. I seriously question if any of what is happening on any of these fronts will be positive, or a solution. Such actions are the expected, because they reflect brouhahas which have already been supposedly dealt with and fixed. (Yeah, right???) THESE are our “low” norms.

I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.

Copyright 2009 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved. Fred Cederholm is a CPA/CFE, a forensic accountant, and writer. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.A., M.A. and M.A.S.). He can be reached at

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This story was published on May 3, 2010.