Before you get started, there is nothing in this post that is TCPA related and no breakdowns of any legal doctrines except at the most metaphysical of levels. So stop reading if that’s what you were after (and why wouldn’t it be since this is a legal blog? ha.) I don’t want to waste anyone’s time here as I know we’re all very busy. And we’ll definitely have more great TCPA-related content for you next week as developments continue to pour in.
But for those of you that enjoy my quasi-philosophical musings more broadly, read on.
This is a historic time. And in historic times, I suppose, all Czars (even made up Czars ruling over made up kingdoms, which they all are, and which is sort of the point, but we’ll get to that) must give an address. This is mine.
Ill start with a quick story. Fair warning– this is a dark story and lacks any semblance of a happy ending.
According to Troutman family lore–which tends to be more accurate than most other types of lore– my great-grandfather– William Randolph Troutman–lost and buried his only two children at the time in the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. He didn’t have much money (the Troutmans were, historically, of modest means) and so he had to carry their bodies, wrapped in course blankets, on the back of a mule for 50 miles from the farm he lived on in central Missouri to the county seat in order to assure a proper burial. Such was the state of the crisis at the time, that the names of the deceased children were not even recorded in the hastily prepared public record. They’re just listed as “Troutman, Male, Age 3” and “Troutman, Male, Age 5.”
Told you. Total. Downer.
I hope, as all of you do, not to be burying any children in this mess. And given the current statistics, it seems quite clear that the youngsters in this nation stand a very good chance of suffering minimally, if at all, from Covid 19. That is, rather obviously, a very good thing.
But it won’t be like that for everyone. Truth is, things might get pretty bad these next few weeks and none of us are going to get out totally unscathed. Indeed, 90% of us will probably end up knowing at least one person with Covid 19. That’s just how pandemics work. And some of those people are going to die. That’s just how biology works.
Biology sucks. Hence the mule story.
Biology sucks so badly, in fact, that we have invented systems to insulate ourselves from thinking about how dreadful life can be and to distract us from our own mortality. A simple repetitiveness that reminds us that everything is ok and always will be. And that’s fine. Why fret life away?
But sometimes we get so caught up in our own little existence–so myopically focused on the here and now–that we lose perspective and start believing that all our make-believe systems and institutions are somehow real. That the life we know is solid, unshakable bedrock that has somehow always existed (no matter what the history books tell us) and somehow always will exist. And we fall victim to a creeping certainty that things can never really change and with it, a slavish dedication to instruments and trinkets of distraction that runs quite counter to our natural penchant for truthseeking, knowledge and compassion.
That’s why, every once in a while, the universe has to throw us a curveball. Something really big. Something that comes along and strips us of all our toys (and basketball tournaments) and forces us to look up and finally confront the fragility of the world we’ve created for ourselves. To marvel, perhaps, for a moment at least, at the insincerity of it all. To shudder, hold our loved ones close, and reflect.
Before we all inevitably get back to work…
Its important, though, not to miss the lesson in the race to get back to normalcy. We need to have our reality shaken to the core every once in a while–even if just once in a generation and even if briefly– because it reminds us that things can change. That the world is not–and never has been–static. That our systems are not the natural order– indeed they are perfectly unnatural and, ultimately, entirely imaginary–and that we must never lose our humanity in their service.
Here’s the point: Biology sucks. People don’t. But people can start to suck when they get too caught up with the systems they mostly just invented to keep from thinking about how much biology sucks in the first place.
Watching biology beat those systems is weird and scary but–I hope– ironically redemptive for the human spirit.
TCPAWorld dwellers are used to fluidity. Used to seeing bedrock shatter and immense change on a daily basis. We’re used to upheaval of a sort. Heck, we embrace it (so long as nobody gets hurt).
So here’s my charge as your Czar TCPAWorld– as you’re already mentally equipped to deal with challenging times, use that advantage and make the REALWorld a better place these next few weeks. Help the elderly–they’re really quite vulnerable right now. Be kind always and selfless where you can afford to be. But most of all, help others to understand that although we are living in extremely challenging times, the perception-altering impact of the virus on our society may actually be a rare gift: one that should eventually bring us all closer together–even as it currently keeps us physically apart.
More great TCPA content coming next week.
In the meantime, never distance your hearts TCPAWorld. And I’ll be thinking of all of you.
Reminder– this blog is ran and owned by Eric J Troutman, and co-branded with Squire Patton Boggs. The views here are my own, and are not necessarily the views of the firm or any partner or employee other than me. If I somehow offended anyone, my bad and I sincerely apologize. Just trying to make sense of these challenging times, for myself as much as for others. I’ll get you a drink when you’re in town next to make up for it. Which, I understand, might be a while since no one wants to fly right now. Good luck out there fine-print readers.