Wave Two–From 2020 To 1918: September 21

Now And Today, September 21, 2020

A thread woven into threads. A fiber woven into fibers. A strand woven into strands. So many strands and fibers and threads that you can’t tell one from another or this thousand from that thousand. They’re a tangled mess.

Your time and energy are nearly impossible to allocate into a tangled mess. You know you’re expected to do something, yet you have no way of knowing when enough is enough. You hesitate to ask a team member or colleague to expend their resources when your fear is they’ll burn up as fast as you with nothing to show for it. You set a goal, and then another and another, seeing little effect on the tangled mess. It continues to thrive and you’re left with another day gone and the prospect of the wheel starting to turn all over again tomorrow.

We’ll get through this, you tell yourself and you tell others. That’s true. We will. But some things are true without being a help. Some things lose their power the more they’re said. Some things disappear into the blob and glob of a tangled mess and make no difference at all. We think about the end of the day and wonder how tomorrow can be different.

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Then, September 21, 1918

The condition of influenza is escaping the box. Without even waiting for definition, the illness leaps beyond the edges that keep life sane and knowable for Americans. The pandemic charges ahead at full speed while we’re sputtering on the fumes.

We struggle to keep the problems of the pandemic apart, measurable, understandable.

Thousands of miles of separation mean nothing. Camp Grant in northern Illinois has 70 soldiers reporting sick with influenza while Camp Lewis in Seattle, Washington has its first dozen fall ill. In between, at the University of Colorado’s Student Army Training Camp in Boulder, a dozen young men from Montana are diagnosed with the illness. A new problem arises at Fort Devens outside Boston, Massachusetts as 15 soldiers die from pneumonia arising from influenza, complicating efforts to identify exactly what’s going on. By now, more than 7,000 soldiers at Devens suffer from the illness.

The status and position of a person means as little as the miles. 37-year old William Murray dies today in Boston. A military veteran from the Spanish-American War, a Harvard graduate, an attorney, and a former member of the US House of Representatives, the boyish-looking Murray had served as Boston Postmaster for the past five years. He was empowered to monitor all forms of wartime public speech for loyalty to the US government and American nation, a duty which President of the United States Woodrow Wilson entrusted to all Postmasters across the country. Murray had seen only last week a speculative report by a federal government official that enemy German policy could be responsible for spreading influenza in America. Now, Murray is dead—killed by influenza—and those closest to him were chewing on the rumor of enemy culpability. Questions flood the answers—how he got it, where he got it, why he got it, and what exactly was the cause of death.

The pandemic is out of the camps and into the cities. In Chicago the public health director tells people who feel sick to stay and home and in bed; don’t come out of your house into other groups. In Philadelphia influenza has killed people in pockets across the city–in Pennsylvania Hospital, in Municipal Hospital for Contagious Diseases, in the chapter site of the Visiting Nurses Society. The public health director in the city has also permitted the US Navy to bring influenza-ridden sailors into a local facility as a way of coping with staggering numbers of sick on vessels in Delaware Bay.

Today the pandemic spreads out across lines. Into communities. Into jobs and levels and offices. Into multiple categories of death. Into issues that once were disconnected. Each was a thread, running alone. Not now. The great blending has begun and is sprinting far ahead.

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Looking Ahead From Today, September 21, 2020

It’s all indistinct at this point. Ongoing fallout from the pandemic, social unrest, economic disruption, protest campaigns, election campaigns, the death of an elderly jurist and other events that pop up with no notice, the weather, and on and on, the threads are invisible to nearly everyone. It’s one big creature.

Rather than disentangle all that is knotted together, perhaps a better approach is to look for an individual moment that gives you comfort and better thoughts. It’s your own thread of time. Make the moment into a thread, even if it’s a new thread, and then seek another, then another. Don’t let go of them as you reach out for the next. The point is what you suspect I’m leading to—make a bundle of your own threads that are tied together and which can be gripped with both hands. Gather these moments that are steadying and uplifting. You’ll discover that they can endure and, when the pandemic is over, could be quite valuable in living forward. It’s possible you’ll realize that those bundles of new-known moments amount to something of profound meaning. They may cause you to invoke hindsight and in so doing, see an importance you never knew was there.

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For Those Wanting To Bridge 2020 And 1918, A Reminder…

Warfluenza and Warcorona.

Warfluenza is what Americans experienced in 1918 when influenza interacted with their dominant issue and concern of the day, World War One. The illness comes to them through their handling of and coping with World War One. That’s why I want you to think of it as Warfluenza. The pandemic and the issue affect each other.

Warcorona is what Amercians are experienced in 2020 when coronavirus interacts with our dominant issue and concern of the day, World War Trump. Regardless of whether you love or hate Trump, Trumpism, and the Trump Presidency, it blends with the illness and thus we handle and cope with both together, inseparable. It’s Warfluenza updated to our world—Warcorona.

I want to reintroduce you to the world of Warfluenza’s Wave Two because we’re in Warcorona’s Wave Two right now. We’re following Warfluenza and Warcorona on exactly the same days across 102 years. Mark Twain is supposed to have said that history doesn’t repeat but it sure does rhyme. Count me as a “yes” to that statement.

As always, I invite you to reach out to me. Leave a comment here, email at , or text at 317-407-3687.