Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘social justice


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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




Speed Perception

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Did the year 2020 feel like it took a long time to transpire? Does it seem surprising that we are past the middle of March already? We all know that time passes slowly or quickly depending on how we consider it, despite the fact it ticks off at the same rate no matter what. It’s our perception that changes.

On my commutes, I find myself surprised by how easy it is to spot a car ahead that is traveling significantly slower than the rest of the traffic. It comes in handy for making lane changes well in advance of needing so to do. Spotting vehicles in my mirrors that are traveling much faster than I am usually provides a lot less time to react.

It is common knowledge that water takes longer to boil if you watch and wait for it to happen.

How fast is the impact of rising greenhouse gases on the earth’s climate? It is occurring right in front of our eyes. We are living it. The thing is, I remember hearing about this threat decades ago from explorer Will Steger‘s first-hand eyewitness accounts of changes in both polar regions of our planet. We know the ice is melting. We know weather events keep getting more intense.

Will climate change take longer to happen because we are watching it? I wish.

Yesterday, I had a meal inside a restaurant for the first time in a year. That was a long time in coming. So long that it exceeded my ability to perceive whether it felt like a long time, or not. It just felt strange.

Let’s hope we are racing at breakneck speed toward a post-pandemic world that includes less poverty, more equality, zero emissions, greater social justice, the end of food insecurities/homelessness/violence/hatred, and reaches record levels of love beaming throughout the world.

That’s something I’d really like to see coming up in my rearview mirror faster than I expected.

I wouldn’t need to get out of the way.



Written by johnwhays

March 18, 2021 at 6:00 am

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.



Written by johnwhays

March 6, 2021 at 10:28 am

Witnessing Progress

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Sometimes, progress moves pretty slow in societies. Resistance to change is not easy to overcome. In the world of professional spectator sports in the US, we are seeing some rather impressive progress of late. Movement from entrenched mindsets that were blatantly white supremacist and discounted people of other races, toward decisions that show respect and inclusion.

Of particular note, the NFL team from Washington has dropped their “mascot” name; the Cleveland MLB club is changing their “mascot” name; and this week, Major League Baseball has announced they are reclassifying Negro Leagues as major league, bringing the statistics from the past into the MLB record books.

MLB has said it is “correcting a longtime oversight in the game’s history” by elevating the Negro Leagues on the centennial of its founding.

I understand how some can express criticism over the fact this should have happened a lot longer ago than just now, but I feel that now is better than never, so I’ll accept this progress and celebrate it.

May these changes be mere samplings of greater advances toward equitable social justice to come at increasingly rapid rates.

It feels so refreshing to experience a broadening hopefulness for the possibilities of greater love, truth, and justice in this country again.



Written by johnwhays

December 17, 2020 at 7:00 am

Figuring Out

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The human race has made it this far. Maybe things will change for the better if enough people overcome fear, selfish greed, and exclusionary dogma to embrace love for all others equally. Think about it.

In the meantime, rational thinking must tolerate the rampant distribution of disinformation and innumerable groups of gullible people who allow themselves to believe any narrative that aligns with their versions of reality.

Long ago I became disturbed by ever-increasing reports of atrocities enacted by individuals who had themselves been abused. It was very obvious that those who had been harmed were eventually becoming offenders. Generations of this pattern were creating an expanding pyramid of misery.

This led me to visualize inverting that pyramid of dysfunction by breaking the patterns in some who could raise healthier children. With each generation, there would be fewer abusers and from the top down, the cone of an inverted dysfunction pyramid would be getting smaller with time. A reverse-pyramid scheme.

Of course, the opposite of that is the wonderful perspective of a pyramid of healthy loving people expanding with every generation.

I sought to break the chain of depression that I had inherited from my family tree and provide the knowledge and support for my children to recognize depression in themselves and those they love.

With the innovations of a world-wide internet and social media applications, the less rational portions of the human population have found a method to consolidate their numbers in frightening ways. I’m finding myself stumped for ideas to invert the pyramid of fear-based philosophies.

How much of my loving them will influence a change of thought? Why doesn’t rational logic override conspiratorial fears? How will non-religious spirituality ever compete with entrenched dogma of so many rival sects?

Will our dog and our cat ever figure out how to peaceably get along?

From history, we know that civilizations collapse. There is no assurance that there will come a day when all people eventually come together into a healthy, compassionate, inclusive, and loving society. Maybe if robots are programmed to take over our governance. Although, I saw a curious report that an AI (artificial intelligence) controlled camera mistook a referee’s bald head for a soccer ball and followed it for the remainder of a match.

Based on the last four years of backlash to the US having elected a person of color to the highest office for the eight years previous, our democracy doesn’t appear to be the beacon of hope it was once purported to be. Capitalism doesn’t deserve very high marks either, given the insane disparity of wealth distribution and environmental destruction it has achieved.

If the US survives the outcome of our election on Tuesday, we will have a lot of work ahead of us to overcome animosities and nurture more love for others than ever before. Freedom may ring, but the world will be a much better place if it rings with due respect for all others.

Let’s expand love to more people in the world than any generation before us ever achieved.




Alternative Route

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I don’t know how long it will last, but on Monday I stumbled upon an alternate route to the “classic editor” I prefer and have used successfully for years prior to the so-called great [cough] “block editor” that became the WordPress default as of October.

Aah, the good old days.

This week we are enjoying an alternative October in the form of very summer-like high temperatures outside. It is strange to have the hours of daylight rapidly changing when the weather is so warm. The two phenomena don’t usually happen together to this extreme. Isn’t it odd to have weather behaving wacky at this point in the history of the planet?

Oh, I guess it’s not odd at all. Scientists have been predicting this for decades. Gee, if we don’t make significant changes in our reliance on fossil fuels, icebergs in the polar regions will melt, weather patterns of storms, droughts, floods, fires, and temperatures will become more extreme, and geographies and economies will be at risk.

Throw in a model of a global virus pandemic at the same time and you have the makings for a real stomach churner.

I suppose the insidious rise of extreme ideologies in multiple nations around the world touting white supremacy or fear of any diversity at all could be the icing on this growing mess of craziness.

The scourge of social media platforms enhancing the idiocy and ignorance could be viewed as the sprinkles on that icing.

Might there be an alternative route to love and enlightenment awaiting discovery by a collective of seekers?

It seems to me that a fair number of individuals find ways to grasp that golden ring, but can diverse populations of multiple nations ever make the bold leap en masse?

Cyndie and I practice an art of recovery from angst-producing situations that our horses helped to teach us by their ability to swiftly return to grazing calmly after a disturbance. When things appear to be spinning out of control, the vocalized phrase, “get back to grazing” helps us to put things in a healthier perspective.

It’s a way of paying heed to the bigger picture. Playing the long game.

Things might be out of control right now, but we don’t need to dwell in the worst of it all.

What I am wrestling with lately is the challenge of claiming my peace of mind in an immediate moment when so many others are enduring terrible suffering.

One alternate solution I experiment with is to fully embrace my good fortune of knowing infinite love, mindfully doing so in proxy for those who are not able.

To the innocents who have been unjustly confined, to those who have become prisoners of their own hate, to people who are victims of every manner of social injustices, I send love into the world in your honor.

It’s an alternate route that I dream someday might grow to become the main highway for all people of the world.



Pondering Still

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In a simple reflection of the stressful current events that hardly need listing, my days are splattered with competing demands commanding my attention. I’m growing weary of the constant exercise of redirecting my energy from the angst-inducing to the peaceful loving focus I prefer.

I should be rewarded by the project of clearing brush we worked on yesterday in the uncharacteristic high humidity, but the slow progress was overshadowed by the pall of troublesome political, societal, and environmental issues simmering in a brew of the coronavirus pandemic stew.









The front (or eastern) half of the northern border of our property has a natural fence of uncontrolled growth that I have long sought to turn into a wall by trimming it like a hedge. A year or so after we moved here, I made a first swipe along the span, cutting back the existing growth. In the ensuing years, I have gained enough confidence to cut the “hedge” much closer to the very old and mostly buried barbed wire fence that long ago defined the property line.

Yesterday’s effort was nice to accomplish, but it was a sweaty struggle against the frustrating strength of entangled vines that fought back unendingly against our every attempt to clear branches. The grey clouds hung low and the high dew point temperature gave the September air an odd thickness that was the opposite of inspiring freshness.

For all the progress we made, stepping back to look at the distance that still remained to be cleared revealed how little had actually been gained. It felt all too similar to the issues of social justice that are far from being accomplished.

The world at large does influence each of our own individual environments. If anyone is suffering, we all suffer.

A new Minnesota poll just released highlighted a variety of details related to the pending U.S. Presidential election. One that resonated in particular for me was how the level of education reflected the differing amount of support for the two main candidates. I think that speaks volumes.

Don’t ever vote stupid. Get educated on our democracy. Become smart enough to recognize integrity.

Imagine if we could vote in a government that would work to protect citizens from stupid ideas. Oh to have a Federal Government that would swiftly and intelligently address the pandemic. Oh to have leaders who would uphold the intent of our protections against harming the environment. Oh to have leaders who could enforce financial ethics guidelines.

Oh to have the entire length of our “hedge” shaped by the time next spring’s growth begins to expand it once again.



Written by johnwhays

September 27, 2020 at 10:32 am