Economies of Harm

What hard truths do you need to examine about our current systems so you can see yourself more expansively in your own honesty?

Our lives are defined by a complex matrix of values — what we prioritize and what we’re willing to sacrifice. But for many of us, our values have changed over the past year. What does this mean for our perception of success? Of value? Of worth? The pandemic has exposed, and is continuing to expose, all the ways that existing systems are failing us: capitalism is driving folks to feel like they have to constantly churn, and the pressure to produce and grind and compete against one another is immense. The result is a toxic individualism that promotes profit over people, product over process. It is our responsibility as creatives and changemakers to disrupt the economies of harm. What could we be if we weren’t bound by capitalism’s expectations of time? 

What we need is a value system, and not just values. How can we create a system that helps us understand and structure our lives in a way that allows us to thrive by environmental design? One that prevents us from feeling anguish in the abstract all day about things we cannot change? Moreover, how can we construct a society that implores us to take care of one another above all else? To foreground communal belonging? Because if we don’t prioritize interpersonal responsibility within a newfound system, can we meaningfully say that we still have a civilization or society?

For this issue, we are thinking toward the future, and how our present actions and inactions will inform its shape. Tell us: What aspects of your life hold the most value for you now? Is it family? Art? Time? Health? Stability? And what hard truths do you need to examine about our current systems so you can see yourself more expansively in your own honesty? The beauty of this uncertain moment is that there is an opportunity for experimentation, for dreaming up new realities and stories that do not yet exist. We want to read pieces that don’t fit neatly into previously understood, “acceptable,” forms; experience poetry that is creating its own mold; and learn about worlds and perspectives that dare to undercut society and its expectations, stereotypes, and limitations. Together, let us dig into the inequities of today, build into the possibilities of tomorrow, and imagine a world that will steadily, beautifully, become wholly unrecognizable to us in all the best ways possible.

This call was co-curated by Teri Vela, Michael Frazier, Dena Igusti, Rogelio Juarez, Avi-Yona Israel, Bretty Rawson, and Joyce Chen.

The featured image is “Hongkong Apartments Building” by LUK Ka Lok.

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  • 14: Economies of Harm

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