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

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25

Nov

2022

A porcupine teaches about true love

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday November 24, 2022

 

A porcupine waddled across the road in front of me the other day. It’s an ungainly creature. Little short legs paddle along underneath a jiggling haystack of quills, with its lethal tail flopping along the pavement behind it.

            Clearly, it sensed that it was in no danger. As long as it stayed right side up, that is. A predator can kill a porcupine only by flipping it over to get at its undefended underbelly.

            When I got home, my cat ran to greet me. It arched its back, rubbed against my pantlegs. And then lay on its back, all four legs akimbo, to have its belly rubbed.

           Whether we’re porcupines, cats, or humans, exposing our most vulnerable parts is a profound act of trust in another. 


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25

Nov

2022

Double whammy bodes badly

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday November 20, 2022 

 

Two news stories juxtaposed themselves this past week.

            In the first story, the eight-billionth human was born somewhere on Wednesday, according to an estimate by the United Nations.

            Maybe not precisely on Wednesday. It might have happened on Tuesday. Or Thursday. But one of the 385,000 babies born during those three days was the eight-billionth member of the human race.

            Just 12 years ago, there were only seven billion of us. A century ago, only two billion.

            We have, in other words, grown like mould.

            That famous “hockey stick” graph of greenhouse gases is duplicated, almost exactly, by the growth of human populations.

            Yet we get all upset about one statistic  and avoid the other.


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25

Nov

2022

Doing what’s right is always worth it

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday November 17, 2022

 

IMy email friend and fellow blogger Jim Henderschedt listed a number of things going wrong: “The seemingly daily news of war, lies, assault weapons, muck raking, genocide, racial enmity, mass shootings, homelessness -- the list goes on and on...”

            What do you do when your world seems to be coming apart at the seams? When your dreams turn into nightmares? When old friends topple like bowling pins, and your investments sink like autumn leaves?

            It’s tempting to go back to bed and pull the covers up over your head. Or perhaps to curl up on the floor in a fetal position.


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25

Nov

2022

Mid-term elections all about Trump

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday November 13, 2022 

 

Final results in the U.S. mid-term elections may not be in for some weeks. But the political pundits are having a field day finding things to analyse. 

            I dare suggest that some of them have read the election wrong. This election was not about abortion rights. Or about immigration, racial discrimination, or inflation. 

            It was not even – despite Joe Biden’s and Barrack Obama’s impassioned last-minute pleas – about the survival of democracy. 

            It was about one thing -- Donald Trump.

 

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12

Nov

2022

A grocery cart burdened with traditions

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday November 10, 2022

 

 

For a week, a while ago, I was a person with “no fixed address.” My daughter was out of town for a university reunion. That made me the designated driver/chaperone/security patrol for her two teenagers.

            But I still had my own home, cat, and community responsibilities to tend to. 

            So I spent the week shuttling back and forth between two houses 30 km apart. 

            One morning, a woman pushing a grocery cart, piled high with all her worldly possessions, crossed the street ahead of me. 

            I felt sorry for her. At the same time, I must admit, I felt a flicker of scorn, maybe even contempt. 

            Then I felt shame. Because she and I were both in the same cart, so to speak. 


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12

Nov

2022

Racism isn’t only in other countries

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday November 6, 2022 

 

I’d better say this tight up front – I have never experienced prejudice against me because I am white. I suspect that no “person of colour” can say the same.

            I have travelled widely. I have spent time in, by my last count, 66 different countries. In many of those, the local population had darker skin than mine. I have never been told, “Hey, whitey, go to the back of the line.” Or, “This is where WE eat; what are you doing here?”

            And if anyone has called me derogatory names, they did it in their own language, and I didn’t know.

            You may protest that you have no prejudice against brown- or black-skinned people. You may really believe that. But you cannot know it. Only the person experiencing prejudice knows it.

 

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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: racism, Prejudice

12

Nov

2022

Domesticating our wildest mysteries

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday November 3, 2022

 

Another Halloween has come and gone. We’ve sent our children out into the darkness of night dressed as skeletons or mummies, ghouls and ghosties, and other things that go bump in the night.

            Now the costumes have been put away for another year. 

            And I wonder what’s special about Halloween that we’re dressing up our kids for.

            There was a time, of course, when people actually believed that the souls of the dead rose up from their graves and roamed the streets. The whole premise of Dickens’ Christmas Carol relies on Scrooge believing that dead still have a presence among us.

 

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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: Hallowe'en, ghosts

12

Nov

2022

A page I wish I had read years ago

Author: Jim Taylor

 

Thursday October 27, 2022

 

         About two-thirds through the book, I ran across a passage that hit me like lightning. Under stress, said author Daniel Goleman, “the amygdala commandeers the pre-frontal cortex, the brain’s executive center… As our brain hands decision-making over to the ‘low road,’ we lose our ability to think at our best. The ascendant amygdala handicaps our abilities to hold information in working memory, for reacting flexibly and creatively, for focussing attention…”

            Ahah, I thought, that’s what used to happen to my wife Joan. She was smart. She was tough. She ran a department with 40 staff. She handled the sale of one church property and the purchase of another, despite all the impediments that two levels of government could throw at her. 

            But she hated exams. 

 

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12

Nov

2022

Climate change killing famed sockeye run

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday October 23, 2022 

 

Such a miracle is the salmon!

            Of the 4,000 or so eggs that a female sockeye deposits in the Adams River, B.C.’s most famous salmon run, only two will survive long enough to start a new generation.

           There’s a salmon run every year. Every fourth year, though, is the biggest run.

            A week ago, I drove up to the Adams River to see what was supposed to be a banner year, a dominant year. 

            I’ve been there before for a dominant year. So many salmon were packed together, each one seeking the best grovel for spawning, that I felt I could walk across the river on their backs. 

            Not this year. 

 

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12

Nov

2022

Happy Birthday, dear Universe…

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday October 20, 2022

 

The universe will be 6026 years old this weekend. According to Irish Archbishop James Ussher, in 1650, the universe began on October 23, 4004 BCE (Before Christian Era).

            It’s easy to make fun of Ussher. Years ago, I had a part in the play Inherit the Wind, a fictionalized treatment of the Scopes “Monkey Trial” of 1925.

            During one rehearsal, the actor portraying prosecutor Matthew Brady declared, in a voice like God playing Spencer Tracy, that the earth had been created at “precisely 9:00 a.m.”

            And a voice from the audience cracked, “9:30 in Newfoundland…”

            The cast erupted in laughter.

 

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