Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘privilege

Turnaround

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turn around
put my hands up in the air
put my hands behind my back
force me to re-register my right to vote
question my right to be here
deny me a loan
just pull my car over to the side of the road
don’t ask me, tell me
don’t wait to hear me explain
do you know why you pulled me over?
turn around
don’t you know that I am white?
why do you treat me different
why not treat me the very same
whatever you do to the oppressed
you are doing to the rest of us, too
might as well kneel hard on my neck
with that damn smug look on your face
gloved hand deftly crammed in your pocket
press it down harder
for a full nine minutes and more
make me beg but don’t even listen
you’re too busy putting on your sick show
we all died that day in Minneapolis
in an unceremoniously incremental way
and we can’t turn back our collective clocks
to a time when it wasn’t this way
so just simply turn around
let’s all walk the other way
to the place they don’t want us ever to reach
the one in the magnificent dream
in that inspiring speech
at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
August, 1963
let’s just turn around and go there
because here 
is not where
we want
to be

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Conflicting Thoughts

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There’s a battle raging in the available space of my brain between the wonderful goodness all around us and the repeated failings of improvement where the needs are well known. We just heard an update on progress to vaccinate for COVID-19 that lamented the low percentage of the neediest people receiving shots, despite the advanced knowledge that this should be the priority. Even when there is broad public awareness of the need to get the first vaccinations to the communities most impacted by the virus, insufficient effort to make this come about leaves things to play out as usual with the advantage going to people of privilege.

It is a lot easier to talk about what “should” happen than it is to actually enact the changes needed to achieve high ideals.

Sounds a little like the way things always go in our governmental system. Two-party politics for passing legislation advancing the lofty goals of a nation results in a lot of sounding off but very little in the way of bringing lasting positive change. Progress is slow for the poor and disenfranchised citizens of our country.

We have passed the 1-year milestone since the pandemic took over all of our lives and Cyndie and I have thus far dodged illness. Others we know have not been so lucky, including some who are currently suffering symptoms. We are sending love to those of you experiencing the virus first-hand.

News reports announcing crazy-high numbers of small earthquakes in Iceland, combined with several other notable recent quakes around the planet suggest something big is about to go boom. It’s a strange threat to contemplate from our relatively stable geographic landscape.

A strong spring melt is underway at Wintervale and the chickens are thrilled over the ever-expanding “tillable” terrain becoming exposed again.

The south-facing slopes are free of snow but the rest of the forest is still covered like the surfaces of an old-fashioned freezer. Walking the trails is a fascinating demonstration of how much chill emanates from the icy carpet below.

Delilah loves to pause and rub her face in the snow-cone texture. Her head was all wet at the end of a walk yesterday from rolling in the slushy snow.

It’s incredibly calm and soothingly optimistic with the promise of spring unfurling right before our eyes. The animals all seem giddy and I guess that is contagious.

It’s a welcome contrast to the more unsettling thoughts looming.

Here’s to visions of the days ahead when COVID sufferers can come walk our trails, breathe the health of our forest air, and hang out with our chickens for a while.

We’ll send you home with fresh free-range eggs.

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Written by johnwhays

March 6, 2021 at 10:28 am

Blasted Grill

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For the amount of time I am stuck commuting on Interstate freeways, I should be grateful for the majority of hours I sneak by incident-free. My greatest challenge has been battling fatigue on the drive home in the afternoons. Beyond that, the number of times I have gotten caught in a backup caused by a crash or bad weather in the six years I’ve been commuting from Wisconsin can be counted on one hand.

I’ve rarely even witnessed incidents involving other vehicles occurring around me. I credit much of this good fortune to the off-peak hours I am usually on the road. My early morning departures did lead to a side-impact from a deer that got up close and personal with my driver-side door a year and a half ago, but overall the hazards of early-hours travel are offset by benefits of less actual traffic.

Yesterday morning, my luck ran out in the reduced visibility of early darkness when a pickup truck in front of me ran over a large, flat piece of debris that kicked up into the air so that it slammed into my grill at full freeway speed. In the split second available to consider my situation, I hoped it was mostly harmless light plastic because impact was inevitable.

By the sound it made, I knew it wasn’t light and I was immediately relieved that it had found the grill and not the hood or windshield in front of my face.

There was nowhere convenient to pull over and it was still completely dark outside so I simply continued the drive to work, arriving long after I’d already forgotten the incident had even happened. I walked inside, oblivious.

It wasn’t until I went back outside after the sun had come up, looking for the newspaper that hadn’t been delivered (again), that I suddenly remembered the incident and took time to inspect for damages.

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Aww HECK! The license plate frame (not my real numbers), the grill, and the plastic of the main front cracked and chipped!

On the way home from work, I stopped for a damage estimate and learned the headlight assembly was busted up, too. Do you know how expensive the new-fangled LED headlights that can shine around corners are? This one is almost $900.

I’m glad we saved so much money by fixing the deck ourselves this fall. Some of those savings will now be needed to pay the insurance deductible for auto body repair.

I’m a little ashamed to be whining about such luxury problems. At least I have a new car that will hold value if repairs are maintained. I also have money to afford the expense, even though that is not how I prefer to be spending it. I am able to sacrifice hours from the day-job to deal with the appointment of dropping the car off in 6 weeks and picking up a rental for the 4-days minimum to complete the repairs. I have insurance that includes coverage for rental car expenses.

I am paying attention to being privileged enough that this is what I’m inclined to whine about right now.

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Written by johnwhays

November 21, 2019 at 7:00 am

Noticing Privilege

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I stumbled upon an article yesterday that gobbled up my attention and hung on to it for much longer than I usually allow most politically charged stories to occupy my mind.

While I was being held prisoner to traffic on Interstate 94 last Thursday, I passed some of the mind-numbing, slow-rolling-brakelights time listening to Brett Kavanaugh’s opening statement and a few Senator’s worth of questions and his responses (“responses” because sometimes they weren’t answers).

Some of what he said, and the raw emotion with which he said it, seemed pretty compelling. Having not had the opportunity to hear Christine Blasey Ford’s session, I had nothing to compare to his version of the issue. I figured he had a lock on the needed votes to be confirmed for a lifetime term on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Despite what I figured, my gut and my intuition were providing me with an alternative take.

Methinks he doth protest too much.

Reading Nathan J. Robinson’s very long and excruciatingly thorough Current Affairs exposé, “How We Know Kavanaugh is Lying” was incredibly validating of my suspicions.

One of the reasons this article was so compelling for me is that most of the evidence presented is taken directly from the words I heard spoken live on the radio. When analyzed in the way Kavanaugh’s statements are laid out in the article, his own words seem to sabotage his defense. Combined with how often he avoids answering potentially harmful questions, frequently with bizarre redirecting responses, my first impression of his pretty compelling argument was completely dashed.

I just don’t know how anyone could in good conscience vote to confirm his nomination at this point. However, given the state of this country’s political situation, I won’t be surprised if those intent on furthering their agenda will do anything to get him seated on the nation’s highest court.

Pondering that possibility yesterday riled me up something fierce. How could they?! It would be a travesty! We can’t let this happen!

That was when I received an insight that privilege was framing my outrage. In my moment of upset over the possible injustice of this man being allowed to serve despite the preponderance of likelihood he is not worthy, it occurred to me how often similar injustices have been thrust upon groups of people throughout this country’s history.

Over and over again. So often that they come to expect it. Why would it be any other way? Why would indigenous people of multiple tribal nations ever trust the US government? Why would women be surprised to find out they weren’t being treated equal to men? Why would people of color be surprised to find out voting district boundaries had been gerrymandered to influence election results against their best interests?

If the outcome of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination doesn’t go the way I think it should, I hope I am able to contain my outrage and maintain some dignity, despite the injustice.

Generations of good people have endured far worse for far longer and continued to hold their heads high and carry on with hope for better days.

I’m all for better days. I’m even going to hope for sooner than later.

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