Whatever thoughts, opinions etc we have of how others live, we need always to remember that to them,
we are the others . . . and they are making similar judgements about is. Therefore, there is no
independent ‘standard’ to decide which one is the ‘right’ of ‘normal’ one. That is one of the great paradoxes
and dilemmas of life.

Due to Cultural diversity and Individual Self-Expressions , the rang of "normal" is a vast continuum: hence
it really is virtually to give a definitive answer to "what is normal". Really, it is basically meaningless.

So maybe, what we are used to is not the best standard of judging ‘normal’ versus ‘not normal’ against.
Yet, there must be some common ground or criteria by which we can make judgements. And interestingly
enough, there is, it is simple, perhaps too simple because so few ever think of it or use it. It is using what
we know from experience about what feels and is good for people, relationships, families, communities
etc. In other words, we use the effects on people of living in certain ways as the criteria. It may not be the
complete answer, but a much safer, intelligent and fairer way to do so. And one which opens the door to
us allowing ourselves to change some of the things we do or believe, and to incorporate, in our own way,
some of the things we have gathered from observing and witnessing others to improve and expand our
own repertoire of what is ‘normal’. Once we begin that process, we quickly discover that it will be an
ongoing one.

This works between cultures, between groups and between individuals. In relationships it is crucial to do
so. Each one comes into it with their own sense of what is ‘normal’ and will notice things about the other
that don’t fit that description. The choices are simple, either continue seeing them as ‘weird’ or ‘not
normal’, or try and get to know and understand why they do/say things the way they do. When each one
does this, it becomes a win-win for both. When we apply it across the board, it is win-win for everyone.
 -Klaas Tuinman, 2010, Deerfield, Nova Scotia
Normal 101
What Is Normal?

There is a standard we all use to
‘measure’ things, events and people
against: that standard is called
“normal”.  We all use it, we all ‘know’
exactly what it means (to us), yet
when asked to define or describe it, it
comes down to something simple, yet

It’s odd because it can be very simply
summed up. First, “normal” is your
side of the fence; “weird”, “different”,
“strange” and “wrong” etc, are the
other person’s side of the fence. And
that works in both directions,
regardless which side of the fence   
you’re on. Each of you is on your side
and paradoxically, each of you is on
the other side. Of course, that
instantly begs the question, “which
one is the real “normal” one”? Who
When we look a bit closer, ‘normal’ turns out to be “what we are used to”. It is that simple, and that real. What
we are familiar with is the criteria by which we make sense of the world and people around us; and of our own
lives. When we see, hear, witness or experience things we are not familiar with we become disoriented for we
cannot place it into the context that we are so used to, so familiar with. Our general tendency is to call it ‘odd’,
‘weird’, ‘wrong’, or ‘not normal’.

Yet, sometimes on these occasions, those things, while unfamiliar to us, don’t look ‘weird’ or ‘wrong’. Instead,
at those moments they are eye-openers to other, perhaps better ways of doing certain things; or other and
better ways to live. They create a recognition within us, because we realize that whatever it is resonates deeply
with something we knew we’d been missing but could never before put a finger on it, so to speak. And then
suddenly, there it is right before our eyes. At that moment the unfamiliar transforms into something that
expands our sense of ‘normal’ because it connects with something we already ‘knew’, yet didn’t ‘know’.
Another point to consider is that the more
often we are repeatedly exposed to, or
experience, the same ‘weird/odd’ things,  
the less their impact tends to have on us,
and we gradually come to accept it, too,
perhaps not inclined to live it ourselves,   
but make allowance that this is how it is, or
works, for others. Sometimes that is good,
and it is called ‘tolerance’. But often it is not
good, because we subtly accept things that
aren’t good – that are harmful to others  
and to the people who live and experience
it. That’s how people become inured to
violence, alienation, social injustice,
prejudice and violence, as just some

“Normal”, because there are so many
people in so many places who live their
lives very differently from what we are  
used to, turns out to be situational and
relative – it is always connected to what  
any person, or group, had become used to,
as a way of thinking, feeling and living their
lives. Also see
Sidebar from
Dawn Cove Abbey
Roadside Assistance For Your Journey Through Life
- Dedicated to helping people return (and maintain) sanity and decency to life -
From the eBook: "One! The Journey hOMe", by Klaas Tuinman MA, © 2007-2017

Questions and comments welcomed.