A few years ago I wrote a piece for Labor Day suggesting that it become a “do-nothing day.” It was a bit satirical but of course had a serious point as satire does. I had little hope that my recommendation would be adopted. Now that we are suffering from coronavirus panic and people are being told to shelter in their homes, many are no doubt suffering withdrawal symptoms from having to slow down. After all, how many cookies can you bake, television and movies watch, liquor drink, emails and texts send and receive, toilet paper rolls count, etc.?
I am well aware that this enforced idleness has inflicted enormous economic damage on regular working people world-wide, as I believe it is meant to do. The psychological damage is incalculable. The super-rich will no doubt profit mightily from the coronavirus crisis while the poor and middle-classes, small business owners, and the elderly will suffer greatly. The government will use people’s taxes to bail out big banks and corporations for whom they front. Inflicted suffering has a way of culling the herd and controlling the survivors. It’s an old story continually updated.
Such suffering notwithstanding, I think the points I made in that do-nothing article are worth repeating and so I will repeat them in an edited way in what follows. A do-nothing day has now become weeks. I think it important that we create a chrysalis of light and hope in these dark times. Embracing contemplation might even breed resistance to the evil forces that run the show.
In a country with a Mount Rushmore that celebrates the ruthless and frenetic westward expansion, it might be a bit naïve to suggest do-nothing days are a good thing. I have nothing against laboring men and women working hard and constantly. I am a laborer myself, and national holidays like Labor Day are great – so many sales for stuff no one needs, and far too many people working on an ostensible holiday. But I have this ridiculous dream of a time when everyone just does nothing for a while.
To rush less, to idle, and to do nothing sounds so un-American, yet it might be a solution to many of our country’s problems. Quixotic as it may sound,