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

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Retribution, rehabilitation, prevention

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday July 25, 2021


 “A teenage girl who stabbed a boy to death in downtown Kelowna was sentenced to one day in custody after pleading guilty to manslaughter.”

            That was the first sentence of a story in Wednesday’s paper.

            It took me aback.

            One day? Especially when that one day was the day she appeared in court?

            Part of me says that murder, even an unpremeditated murder like this one, deserves punishment. No one should get off with a verbal reprimand.

            That is, of course, the principle behind what’s called retributive justice. Make ‘em suffer for that they did.

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If I were a coronavirus…

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday July 18, 2021


COVID-19 cases have started surging again, in places like Brazil, India, Indonesia, and the U.S.. Reports blame the rise on anti-vaccine movements, distrust of authorities, misinformation, and government incompetence. 

            If I were a coronavirus, I’d be celebrating all of those.

            As a virus, I have only one goal – to get inside the cells of as many humans as possible, so that I can take over their cell mechanisms to make more copies of me, so that I can get inside more cells of more humans. 

            We viruses run the ultimate assembly line. All we need is victims. 

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Trees do not grow on money

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday July 11, 2021


Back in May, Lorna Beecroft posted a photo on her Facebook page of a giant log being trucked down a Vancouver Island highway. It went viral.

            “I have never honestly in my life seen a tree that big on a truck ever,” Beecroft said.

            The log was almost ten feet – three metres – in diameter. It filled the entire highway lane, all by itself.

            Here in the Okanagan, I see lots of logging trucks go by. At a guess, they carry up to 100 trees per load, some of them so small it would be hard to cut a single 2x4 out of them.

            But this was just one log. A single giant spruce.

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The gift of life for someone unknown

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday July 4, 2021


I wanted to be the first person to donate blood plasma at the new Donor Centre in Orchard Park. 

            Over the 12 years that my wife Joan had leukemia, she received a plasma transfusion every month. She had no immune system left. So she needed what they called intravenous-immunoglobulin, IV-IG for short. It comes from blood plasma. 

            Plasma is the clear fluid left after a centrifuge filters out all the solid stuff circulating in your blood stream – red cells, white cells, platelets, etc. 

           In Joan’s case, she needed the antibodies that she couldn’t produce for herself. It can take 1,000 plasma donations to get the right mix of antibodies for particular needs. 

            Twelve years, at 12 transfusions a year, times 1,000 donors, meant that I owed a debt of gratitude to around 144,000 people for keeping my wife alive. 


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No one should live in fear

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday June 27, 2021


When parliament recesses for the summer, members who do not expect to run again have an opportunity to speak about their experience. Most of them praise the institution and their colleagues effusively. 

            Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq didn’t. 

            Ottawa’s only Innu MP, she launched a blistering attack on the racism and prejudice endemic in a system built around aging white males in suits. 

            “Every time I walk on to House of Common grounds, speak in these chambers, I’m reminded every step of the way I don’t belong here,” Qaqqaq began.

            Even as an MP, she said, “I have never felt safe or protected in my position.” Security guards follow her, suspicious about a seeming outsider – young, female, and non-white – wandering in those hallowed halls. 

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Musings on Father’s Day

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday June 20, 2021


 Father’s Day feels somewhat hypocritical. 

            On the one hand, we’re supposedly praising fathers for all the contributions they make to children’s growth and emotional stability. 

            And on the other hand, fathers are the only social group that can safely be ridiculed, scorned, and denigrated without inciting some kind of mass protest. 

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Our values come from our communities

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday June 13, 2021


Last Sunday evening, a young man who doesn’t deserve to have a name aimed his black pickup truck at a family taking their evening walk along a sidewalk in London, Ontario. He bounced over the curb and smashed into them. 

            They were Muslims. The women were wearing hijabs and traditional shalwar kameez -- loose, pleated trousers with a long shirt. “They were visible,” said a family friend.

            The grandmother died on the spot. Father, mother, and daughter died in hospital. Only the boy, nine years old, survived his injuries.

            What that young man did seems abundantly clear. But the motive for his actions remains (as I write this column) unclear. 


            Why them?

            Why there, at that particular time?

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No more excuses for an evil system

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday June 6, 2021


Something snapped inside me when I heard about 215 bodies, buried in mass graves, on the grounds of the former Kamloops Residential School. The news ripped apart any veils of excuses or equivocations, revealing the residential school system as an atrocity. 

            I have to admit that in the past, although I considered the residential schools genocidal in intent, I have nevertheless not condemned them utterly and totally.

            That’s because I have known  many who served in those schools. Generally, they were dedicated, caring, self-sacrificing individuals. My church celebrated the commitment of its doctors, nurses, teachers, matrons.

            Granted, some of them held colonial attitudes towards their indigenous charges. But in the 1950s, who didn’t? 

            I failed to recognize that good people might work within a diabolical system. 

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When worldwide becomes personal

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday May 30, 2021


The big picture only hits home when it becomes the small picture. That’s why movie makers show you the big picture--of thousands of foot soldiers surging up a hill, for example--and then zoom in to show the tension visible on a single face.

            After 14 months of daily pandemic statistics, the big picture of daily COVID-19 statistics goes over my head like distant thunder.

            Until Wednesday of this week.

            When my daughter tested positive.

            Suddenly, COVID-19 has stopped being a big picture and has become intensely personal.

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Little hope for happy endings

Author: Jim Taylor


Sunday May 23, 2021


I wonder if any country on earth has seen more consistent violence than Palestine/Israel. Or is it just that we know more about the endless conflicts there, thanks to the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings in the Bible? 

            Wars against the Philistines, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Moabites … In one appalling passage, God commands genocide against the Amalekites – men, women, children, livestock, even pets.

            Also wars between the sons of Jacob. One act of revenge so totally exterminated the tribe of Benjamin that the other tribes had to volunteer some of their own members to recreate Benjamin for posterity.

            In Jesus’ time, the region was an irritating pimple on Rome’s backside. Other conquered nations accepted the inevitable, got on with business, and profited from the Pax Romana. But Rome had to constantly crush Hebrew rebellions. Protestant Bibles conveniently leave out the grisly saga of the Maccabees, but tourists line up to visit the final defeat at Masada.

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