Wave Two–From 2020 to 1918: September 28

Convergence in the dark

Now And Today, September 28, 2020

The last thing you want to do will not stand much of a chance when it’s placed alongside the first thing you want to do. The last thing may take control for a while but, over time, the first thing will be back on top. First things are first things for a reason.

The dominant sight in your everyday life will not allow itself to be sidelined or minimized for very long. The dominant part of your reality will assert itself much like the first thing does—sooner or later, it wins out.

You can feel it when the dominant, the dominating, the domineering aspect of your life will no longer be denied. Today, you know exactly what it is. Maybe you don’t tell others, maybe you tell a loved one or someone close to you, whichever the case you look in the mirror today and nod to yourself. Yes, you know what it is. You see it in your eyes. The dominant dominates.

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Then, September 28, 1918

This is one of the most important and notable days in the pandemic. September 28. There aren’t a lot of days that achieve such clarity and distinctiveness in a public health crisis—the day you get sick, the day you get better, the day someone you love dies, and the day, Lord willing, that the doctors say they know how to cure or prevent the problem, these are clear markers in time. The day the masks come off, that’s another recognizable day. Most days, though, fail to reach such a point.

Not today, September 28. It’s as clear as they come.

The reason has nothing to do with influenza, nothing to do with the pandemic. September 28 is the day that throughout the United States a huge effort is made to raise money to continue fighting the World War. Called Liberty Loans, these pieces of paper represent the money a person spends to purchase a bond whose sole function is to fund the war currently raging in Europe. The American government needs the money to do all the things that make war so costly—weapons, uniforms, supplies, medicines, pay, and a thousand other items.

Today, September 28, is the official day for the biggest public celebrations, displays, and spectacles to draw out enormous crowds. Speakers and entertainment at the events will stir patriotism and civic pride. The mood will encourage people to open purses and wallets, empty their pockets, drain their bank accounts, all to buy Liberty Loans. Fill the gymnasium, fill the courthouse square, fill the meeting hall, fill the streets, wherever a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand can cram shoulder to shoulder together to be motivated to give their money, let it be done in America. In the name of waging and winning the World War.

The roster of communities with ceremonies on September 28 exceeds all expectations. In New York City at Madison Square. In Philadelphia’s Market Street. In Houston, Texas; Indianapolis, Indiana; Spokane, Washington; San Francisco, California; Chicago, Illinois; Roseburg, Oregon; Cleveland, Ohio; Washington DC; and on and on, people press together to cheer, sing, pray, and clap. Across the nation, more than 150,000 formal speakers travel to cities, towns, and villages to take part in Liberty Loan festivities and spread the word of signing on to pay for the World War. Anything they’ve been told about influenza is pushed to the bottom of the list, the last thing they want to think about. A handful of communities in New England decide to prohibit these events out of fear that influenza will worsen. They and scattered others like them are rare exceptions.

This is what happens when a public health crisis collides with the dominant issue and trend of the day—when influenza meets the World War. Americans didn’t set aside their primary public concern of fighting and winning the World War. No, they continued on with it. Influenza didn’t mind, it blended in, uninterested in the public’s agenda, the public’s faddishness, the public’s obsession with some other issue.

The issue and event go on. The illness goes on. The effect of the two facts, issue and illness, coming together will go on. In millions of homes and apartments, lights flicker out at night. Millions of Americans fade into sleep who now, for the first time, either have the illness or will know someone else who becomes sick from influenza.

Perhaps on this one day more than any other, the World War and influenza enter an ominous new space in the consciousness of Americans. Experience and memory wrap and twist in a realm of the dark. They converge. There are no walls, only membranes, no forms, only shadows. A shape suspends as a sharing begins. The first thing and the last thing become the same thing, the separate inseparable.

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Looking Ahead From Today, September 28, 2020

Our pandemic is enmeshed in everything important to us as individual Americans and as people in the America where they choose to reside and prefer to exist. We are being called out like the Americans of September 28, 1918 were called out. We’re called out to support and vote like they were called out to pay and purchase. Both eras of America have the wars of their worlds. Both are demanded to put first things first.

The upcoming presidential debate seems rather similar to the Liberty Loan parades. You must see the debate as they see the parade. Like September 28 more than a century ago, the event is part of a sequence, a line, of A-B-C-D. A is you now, on the cusp of the event. D is the outcome and result of the election you desire or those to whom you listen say they and you desire; D is still weeks away. Between A and D are B and C. B is the sacrifice and effort already made by others ahead of you, including your friends and family; B is the ground staked out. C is the action you can take—driving in your own stake of speaking and voting in the right way as defined by them, by you, and by you and them. The presidential debate is an invisible link between B and C.

Of critical importance is the similarity between the dark space and place of memory and experience. September 28 in 1918 was vital in erasing the separation between the converging illness and World War. We now know the near-impossibility of splitting the two apart as life pushed into the post-pandemic era. It is indeed likely—a near-probability—that the same dynamic is at work in us.

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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.