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

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27

Mar

2021

Guidelines for better discussions

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday March 4, 2021

 I enjoy good discussions. On almost any topic. My aging body no longer permits some other activities, but I haven’t lost my ability to take part in a lively discussion. Yet. 

            Along the way, though, I’ve learned that there are many ways of destroying a discussion, which range from saying too much to not saying anything. 

            In my experience, the most pernicious fault is to drag in an external authority. Perhaps relying on the insights of a famous writer. A quotation from a scientist. A definition from a dictionary. A theory from a theologian. 

            Or, in some circles, citing selected verses from a scriptural text.


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12

Feb

2021

Language doesn’t need words

Author: Jim Taylor

            At the start of winter, I filled my bird feeder with sunflower seeds. For several days, not one bird came to dinner. Then a single junco arrived, pecked, and flew away. The day after that, a handful of scrappy little finches showed up. 

            The third day, a single quail appeared.

            Now, quail are ground birds. They’d rather run than fly, little legs blurring beneath them like the cartoon Roadrunner’s. And they are not loners. They travel in flocks, so many that sometimes the earth itself seems to be moving. 

            But for some reason, this one flew up to check. Alone.

            And the next day, dozens of quail swarmed over the feeder, climbing over each other, double-deckering on each other’s backs, to get at the treasure trove of sunflower seeds.

            They had to have had a way of passing the good news around. 

            Their own social media? 


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5

Mar

2020

Beyond the limits of personal experience

Author: Jim Taylor

She came walking down the lane past my window, tall, straight, shoulders squared, moving with confident strides, the picture of health and confidence. 

            She couldn’t possibly imagine what it feels like to be unable to straighten her shoulders. Where moving one leg out of bed requires a conscious effort. As does chewing every mouthful of food. 

            I don’t in any way censure that young woman. She’s kind, personable, empathetic. But we – generally speaking -- cannot imagine what we haven’t experienced, even indirectly. 

            Even if we experience disability as a result of an injury or illness, we tend to see it as  temporary. 


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