German ad campaign salutes the lazy couch potatoes saving the country from COVID-19
via antoni_UK / Twitter

COVID-19 has upended a lot of conventional wisdom as it pertains to fighting back against a deadly crisis. These days, for most people, the best way to step up to protect the health of yourself and others is to do as little as possible.

This flies in the face of the old adage that "evil happens when good people do nothing."

2020's heroes are embracing the old Taoist proverb, "When nothing is done, nothing is left undone."


The German government is commending those who've had the courage, persistence, and bravery to do nothing during the pandemic in a new ad campaign. The country is currently in the middle of an emergency lockdown to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The three-video series starts with an old man recalling his "service" to the nation in the winter of 2020, "when the whole country's eyes were on us."

"I had just turned 22 and was studying engineering when the second wave hit," Anton Lehmann says during an interview conducted decades in the future.

"At this age, you want to party, study, get to know people, go for drinks with friends…Yet fate had different plans for us," he said.

The video then cuts to footage of Lehmann as a young man indulging in aggressively unhealthy snacking with his eyes glued to the television.

"Suddenly, the fate of this country lay in our hands," Lehmann said. "So we mustered all our courage and did what was expected of us, the only right thing. We did nothing. Absolutely nothing. Being as lazy as raccoons."

"Day and night we kept our asses at home and fought the spread of the virus," he continued. "Our couch was the frontline and our patience was our weapon. This is how we became heroes, back then, during that corona winter of 2020."

The German government has produced two follow-up videos. The second follows the story of Lehmann's future wife, Luise. In the video, she says that she was feeling great about the couple's future before COVID-19 hit.

"The whole country put their hopes in us young people. So we plucked up all our courage and did nothing," Luise Lehmann said as the video shows the pair lying in bed while eating a bucket of fried chicken.

"We lazed around in bed, met as few people as possible, and with that stopped the spread of COVID-19," she added, saying they were "special heroes."

A third video follows the story of an elderly Tobi Schneider who became an unlikely hero in 2020 due to his extreme laziness.


"Before the pandemic, I was, without doubt, the laziest person to tiptoe through this country, I almost never left my flat, played computer games without any kind of ambition, and ate cold ravioli straight from the tin because I was too lazy to heat it up," Schneider says.

"My friends called me Lazy Tobi but I was too lazy to get annoyed about that," he says.

"And when the virus spread, I remained the same lazy sack of potatoes that I was before," he continued. "But unlike me, the world had changed: to contain the virus, people were urged to stay at home, doing nothing suddenly became a public service, laziness could save lives and I was a champion in that."

The campaign is a great reminder to anyone who ever just wanted to chill out without feeling compelled to achieve anything for a few months, that now's your time to shine. There will be no other point in your life when you can get away with doing absolutely nothing without being judged. So what not take advantage?

Think if it as taking time to rest up before life returns to normal when the vaccine becomes available.

Ready to be a hero?

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Yamiche Alcindor/Twitter, U.S. Department of State

It takes a lot to push a career diplomat to quit their job. A diplomat's specialty, after all, is diplomacy—managing relationships between people and governments, usually with negotiation and compromise.

So when the U.S. special envoy to Haiti, whose "diplomatic experience and demonstrated interagency leadership have been honed directing several of the United States government's largest overseas programs in some of the world's most challenging, high-threat environments," decides to resign effective immediately, it means something.

Daniel Foote, who was appointed special envoy to Haiti in July of this year, explained his decision to quit in a strongly-worded letter to Secretary of State Blinken. His resignation comes in the wake of a wave of Haitian migrants arriving at the southern U.S. border and widespread reports of harsh treatment and deportations.

"I will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life," he wrote. "Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed, and my recommendations have been ignored and dismissed, when not edited to project a narrative different from my own."

Foote went on to describe the dire conditions in Haiti:

Keep Reading Show less