Wave Two–From 2020 To 1918: September 24

Rules and rules-doers

Now And Today, September 24, 2020

The rules last until they don’t. The rules apply until they can’t. The rules matter until life overrides or circumvents them. The next stage after that is a mess with nothing to hold it together—it’s just simply next as a state of time.

Not all spaces are created equal. The space to be together and learn is not equal to any random space. The space to be together and grapple with a vital issue likely is similar in its inequality. The space to absorb and embrace a meaning and part of one’s humanity, while deniable for a period of time, reaches a point where its uniqueness has superior value. Space and together are the words in common. They are a powerful union.

The rub of the rules is that they are important in our pandemic and our Wave Two. Flaunting, ignoring, violating, whatever the term, a cost attaches. We know it. And yet, we know other things, too.

Today, you’ll see and know and feel the rub. Indeed, the rub is the rule.

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Then, September 24, 1918

The only rule in Bellingham, Washington was that they didn’t need rules. That’s the judgment made by some people at least, such as a handful of US Army medical personnel. They acknowledged to a newspaper reporter that influenza was at Camp Lewis, four hours south, but not in their town. Their inference, of course, was that four hours’ distance was the impenetrable barrier, a rule of sorts.

At Camp Meade, Maryland 800 soldiers report to the hospital with new cases of influenza. Major General Jesse Carter asserted to a nearby newspaper editor that influenza wasn’t a big deal. Nothing to see here since we really only have 20-30 cases currently. Nevertheless, commanders at Fort Meade begin a camp-wide quarantine. That’s a rule overlaying a bizarre gap of reality. Something doesn’t fit and it won’t take much of a wind to blow it down and expose what’s real.

On the opposite side of the continent, at Mare Island Naval Shipyard on the central coast of California, Captain Harry George reads all the reports and consumes all the news he can. He concludes the illness is bad, Wave Two is racing his way, and preparations must be made right now. Rules. Interestingly, he takes stock of the area’s situation. His conclusion is that a full-throttle quarantine at the shipyard won’t work—there is too much activity, too much coming-and-going. So, he plans out a modified quarantine. He softens the rules so the rules will bend. Then he’ll enforce them. A remarkable insight in the reality of an hour, a day, a night.

A short distance away, in San Francisco, a young man visiting from Chicago shakes with a chill, coughs from congestion, and wipes sweat from his forehead. Inside every wave is a drop of water.

Near Boston, Massachusetts another young man diagnoses himself with influenza. He decides his best chance is to not go to the hospital and its doctors—they’ll kill me for sure, he thinks—and instead remains in his own bed, taking care of himself. He pulls up his blanket, sips a glass of water, and waits for tomorrow.

In dozens of American towns and cities, committees of five or ten or twenty people gather to plan the final details of their parade. They sit in wooden chairs around wooden desks or tables. They take notes, discuss last-minute topics, make final decisions. At this moment an important duty is in their possession: the American war effort in Europe needs public support, especially in the form of money, finance, funding, and in these communities splashy parades will be held four days from now. Marching bands, floats, banners, music, keynote speakers, maybe a locally famous person or two at a VIP stand. If someone thinks of it, they’ll remember to ask the local public health director if the event should proceed. And of course, with the war being the war, with the war being the single most dominant issue in American life for the past 18 months, the show must go on.


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Looking Ahead From Today, September 24, 2020

The rules act like a magnet. They pull us toward them, closer and closer. Rules exert a force unique to themselves. We get in arguments about them, bicker over exceptions and loopholes, place great importance in their existence. We also act counter to them—using the same type of dynamic to determine that we must, absolutely must, do something other than the rules. We swarm around the rules. The swirling motion can be so intense that we forget the reason for the rules in the first place.

When it’s down to it, you decide. You draw on what you think you need to make and act on a decision. Somewhere along that path, I urge you to invite Captain Harry George. He strikes me as a worthy companion in such a moment. Collecting, sifting, filtering, weighing, applying, tossing out, and keeping in. His experience is valuable in rubbing the rules of today.

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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 with preschool-to-grad school education. If you have someone somewhere in that track, you’re in Wave Two. And so 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.