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Issue 17 Out Now

Just (Don't) Do It: At the Crossroads of Capitalism and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the world in ways most of us have not (and

cannot) fully understand. Many of our social norms (except, of course, those rooted in oppression) have been completely uprooted and life as we know it has drastically changed to accommodate for the deadly virus. Early initiatives aimed at leaders focused on how the country might stay afloat amidst such uncertain times (Stimulus package, rent relief, etc).



As a college student, I and many students across the world looked to our university administration to bridge the gaps our government ignored. In March of 2020, I edited a resolution for my university originally authored by students at USC calling for the adoption of a universal grading system under a Double A model where all students would be graded on an A-/A/A+ scale for all courses taken in the Spring 2020 semester. This model, we believed, was the only equitable solution to grading courses in lieu of cancelling the semester entirely.

For university leaders, the adoption of a Double A grading model would mean that students would be unfairly rewarded for "doing nothing" and the University could face accreditation issues. Opposition to the Double A grading model paralleled opposition to the federal stimulus package in that critics highlighted people who "did not deserve" aid as the main justification for their opposition.

In times like these it is necessary to remind ourselves that In the midst of a global pandemic, there is much validity and merit in doing nothing. Attempts to navigate life "as usual" and pressures to pick up a new hobby or skill--while perhaps not intended--grossly minimize the horrific and historic impact COVID-19 has on the world as we know it. When history is recorded, the measure of COVID-19's deadly impact will not be based on how many people started new business, turned a new leaf in the gym, or found a new hobby.

The urge to "be productive" is inextricably linked to capitalism. Under capitalism, one's worth is tied to one's productivity. In this contemporary moment, some people feel guilty for not maximizing their productivity by taking advantage of the quarantine-afforded downtime. Even in the face of a disease the world has never seen, capitalism shames us for doing nothing. There has to be a healthier way of living. A way of living that decenters productivity and prioritizes wholeness and healing over profits. A way of living that does not demand our last. A way of living that values doing nothing.

After all, we are living through a historic pandemic that has baffled even the most brilliant minds. We've lost so many loved ones and endured so much the past year that we deserve now more than ever to do nothing.

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