CoronavirusOpinions

Much Ado About Capitalism

Photo courtesy of PickPik
I finally got around to emailing my colleagues and writing up this opinion. Since March, the pandemic snatched my established routine and my workflow out from under me. 

Going to school, producing for the Mesa Legend and gathering with my friends and family were the foundation of my being. Okay, that’s a bit overdramatic, but to me it rings true. However, the drone of my loneliness and quiet despair has led me to rethink and reshape how I cope with the boundaries of my personal and professional life. I’m beginning to believe doing nothing is a good thing.

         At the start of the pandemic, it was imperative for me to keep busy. Afterall, I was indoctrinated into the system of production at the cost of my being. I was taught my existence depended upon what I was able to produce, and being unemployed with little to no income delivered a devastating blow to my self-esteem.

The musical optimist in me thought, “I finally get to work on that post-punk project I had envisioned for so long.” It was going to be a culmination of all my inspirations and an ode to New Order, Joy Division, Cocteau Twins, Slowdive–but that was smoke.

         I started gaming a lot more and I still do. I dedicated a stupid amount of time to beating the highest difficulty possible on the beautifully rendered but terribly short Resident Evil 3 (RE3) Remake. I stopped at Nightmare difficulty, the second highest setting. Eventually, RE3’s replay-ability grew dull. I still can’t muster up the energy to even slide my thumb over the button to boot it up.

         My house felt more like a bunker in those days of shut down. I have all the amenities to keep my life comfortable, yet I grew more and more restless. I had to move. I began running about a month ago. I started at a mile, and now, according to the fitness app on my phone, I have run the equivalent of two marathons.

However, I began to break down at my inability to cope in a healthy manner. 

My change in heart came from an innocuous looking Instagram post from the Diné clothing company Winston Paul. The black text on a white background simply and elegantly stated, “Shiyazhi, you’re not stuck at home, you’re safe at home.”

         “Shiyazhi” is a term of endearment in the Navajo language. It is spoken to children from elders whose love is endless and who hold more affection in their hearts than there are stars in the sky.

         I imagined my grandmother saying that to me or my mother.

         That simple post allowed me to realize that being stationary was not failure. I did not fail in securing another job. I did not fail in being unproductive. I realized my person was so intertwined with the idea that I had to constantly be productive, I had forgotten what peace felt like.

         It dawned on me I was not failing a system set up for my benefit, but that system was failing me. It’s failing to contain coronavirus infections by not implementing a national testing strategy as suggested by the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy. It’s failing to give me security about how I will pay my bills and feed myself without risking life over money. Such is the case with Tesla Automotive’s employees and CEO Elon Musk, or how Amazon chose to settle out of a French court than to abide by safety measures imposed by the government, or how under President Trump,unemployment claims are continuing to rise after 30 million Americans had $600 in weekly benefits stripped away at the end of July. 

It’s failing to lead by example and be a vanguard against corruption and uneven power distribution. Above all, it’s failing in making the common worker feel valued in a volcanic time of crisis.

         Instead, these ideas of suppression and ignorance haunt the greatest house in America.

         Like a Hollywood monk in a Himalayan monastery, I did nothing, which unintentionally led to some unorthodox form of meditation. Which for me led back to nothing. It’s hard to imagine what nothing looks like and what it feels like. I haven’t reached nirvana or anything, but doing nothing has really opened me up. I feel like I can let knowledge and peace in. I feel productive in doing nothing; being productive is busy work to avoid my emotions and worries.

         Confrontation has never been my strongest attribute. Now, I must navigate confronting myself in a healthy manner. That first step begins with confronting the dangerous productive mindset of capitalism.

About Author

Shayden Joe is a Native American student journalist from Ganado, Arizona, and currently resides in Phoenix. He joined the Mesa Legend in January 2020 as the Opinions Editor. He has been writing articles for the past year and creatively since teenhood.

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