Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

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The persuasive power of stories

Author: Jim Taylor

She looks happy. A smile wreathes her face, which is smudged with charcoal. So is her frilly pink dress. She’s on her hands and knees inside the fireplace, one small hand raised in greeting. 

            Our daughter Sharon was eight months old when we moved into our dream home in North Vancouver. The rest of us were busy carrying boxes. Sharon was too young to carry anything, so we parked her inside and carried on carrying. How much trouble can a still-crawling child get into in an empty house?

            Then my wife asked, “Where’s Sharon?”

            No one had seen her. We scattered through the rooms, searching frantically. Panic rising in our throats, we gathered in the living room. 

            That’s when we heard the happy gurgle coming from the fireplace.


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What you say, and how you say it

Author: Jim Taylor

Last year, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided that he could not stand proudly for the U.S. national anthem played before every game. During a post-game interview, he explained: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

            Kaepernick himself has experienced profiling. Although he is wealthier than any of the officers who have pulled him over on suspicion. 

            For black people, America is not the “land of the free.” Never has been.

            This year, he chose to kneel during the anthem – kneeling being a symbol of respect – instead of sitting. Many other athletes joined him. “Taking the knee” during the national anthem spread throughout the league.

            The President called the athletes “sons of bitches” and wanted them all fired. 

            Which would probably reduce NFL telecasts to referees blowing whistles at each other.

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How the mighty are fallen

Author: Jim Taylor

Robert Mugabe is gone. The man the news media called “the world’s longest serving dictator” resigned this week, thus heading off both impeachment and forcible removal from office by Zimbabwe’s army.

            My first thought: “How the mighty are fallen.” The quotation seems oddly apt. The legendary Hebrew King David uttered those words as a lament for the death of a man who had once been his closest friend, and then became his adversary. 

            King David and Robert Mugabe have more in common than you might think. 

            Both started as rebels. Today they’d be called traitors, or terrorists. Both started with enormous promise. Both initially led their nations to success. Both had extra-marital affairs with a younger woman. 

            And both overstayed their welcome. Both ended up weak, feeble, incompetent. In one of his final public appearances, 93-year-old Mugabe needed help finding the right page in his speech.

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Beware of destructive emotions

Author: Jim Taylor

Writing about the quagmire of lies, distortions, allegations, and denials that beset the news media these days, William Rivers Pitt, syndicated columnist and Senior Editor for the alternative news agency Truthout, commented, In this line of work, despair is not an emotion we can indulge ourselves in.

            He’s right. Despair leads only to a desire to pull the covers up over our heads and hope the world will go away.

            But his advice applies to much more than just despair.

            Because a number of emotions are cancerous. They tend to destroy their host.

            Anger, for example. And hatred. Hate generally harms the hat-er much more than the hat-ee. Contempt, too. Jealousy. Helplessness.

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Lynch-mob mentality around the world

Author: Jim Taylor

Theyre called cow vigilantes  and no, they are not Lone Ranger wannabees roaming Wyoming in search of cattle rustlers. Theyre fanatic Hindu fundamentalists in India, hunting Muslims suspected of killing cows.

            You haven’t read anything about “cow vigilantes” in the western mass media, because American journalism -- so derided by Donald Trump as the “fake news” media – are just as single-mindedly focused on “America first” as he is. 

            Canadian media (and, I suspect, the European and British media) take their cue from the American media about what’s newsworthy and what isn’t. 

            India simply doesn’t show up on their radar, unless there’s a flood, an earthquake, or a refugee crisis.

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