April 15, 2020
If one has the time… and these days that is probably the safest assumption one can make… it might be beneficial to do a little light reading by studying what has been written about the closest historical event that compares to our current reality: the Spanish Influenza of 1918.
George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Kurt Vonnegut retorted, “I’ve got news for Mr. Santayana: we’re doomed to repeat the past no matter what. That’s what it means to be alive.” But perhaps Mark Twain had the best take on this philosophical debate when he explained, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
I’d like to believe that we can learn from the past and take actions to prevent a reoccurrence but, on the other hand, we can certainly see that we, as a species, do tend to make the same mistakes over and over again.
The reports of the Spanish Flu are indeed sobering and as we hear of contemporary reports of officials making plans to “reopen” our country it should give us pause to consider that the second wave of the influenza of 1918 proved to be far deadlier than the first.
Here’s an article from the Smithsonian Magazine that provides a decent overview of the events of that time.
100 years from now, when people are reading about this time in history, I pray that they will find comfort and strength in the stories that will be written about how we dealt with it.
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