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

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Personal stories trump international news

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday February 27, 2022


Two important things happened on Tuesday February 22. 

            On the international scene, Vladimir Putin thumbed his nose at world opinion and declared two sections of eastern Ukraine “independent states.” The next day, he sent “peacekeeping” troops across the border to invade Ukraine. 

            The second event? I had to have my dog euthanized. 

            Guess which event I will remember for the rest of my life. You’re right. The personal always trumps the universal.

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Prejudice visible only to victims

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday February 24, 2022


Oliver is a peaceful little town of 5,000, nestled in the south end of the Okanagan Valley.  Earlier this month, though, an apparently racist incident outside the high school made headlines. While a “Freedom” rally went on outside the school, a young mother was caught haranguing a student. The video clip where she directed profanity and racial slurs at a high school girl has since gone viral.

            She has been fined. She has apologized. The regional newspaper has published her letter expressing regret.

            Even so, one sentence in that letter caught my attention: “My intent was never to cause anyone any harm.”

            Right there is the problem with prejudice. We -- speaking generally here -- seem to assume that prejudice has to have some kind of ill intent.

            The essence of prejudice, in fact, is the failure of the persons expressing prejudice to recognize that their words and actions HAVE any ill intent, that they may cause harm -- or pain, or humiliation -- to someone else.

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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: Prejudice, victims




Coat-tails and bandwagons

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday February 20, 2022


I usually build my Sharp Edges columns around a current news item. The Rev. Kenneth Bagnell died in February. That’s the end of the hard news for this column. The rest is rumination.

            Readers of my age may remember Bagnell as the editor of Imperial Oil’s award-winning periodical, The Review. And before that as a columnist for the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star. And before that as Managing Editor of The United Church Observer magazine

            Ken was my immediate predecessor at The Observer. When I first went there in 1968, I lived in his shadow.

            But this column is not a eulogy for Ken. It’s about mentors.

            I look back on my life as a succession of mentors.

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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: mentors, Bagnell




Walking billboards for what we believe

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday February 17, 2022


Editorial note: I’m feeling mentally lethargic these days, so rather than try to write about an entirely new subject, I thought it worth repeating last year’s column about “Pink Shirt Day,” which is coming up next Wednesday 

            Anti-Bullying Day started in Canada. I’m proud of that fact, as proud as an apologetic Canadian can be about anything.

            Two teenagers in Nova Scotia, David Shepherd and Travis Price, objected to another student being ridiculed for wearing a pink shirt on the first day of school. So they bought 50 pink shirts and handed them out to other students, to wear in solidarity with the bullying victim. 

            Because their act coincided with the school year, Nova Scotia first set Anti-Bullying Day in September. The day moved around a little, as other provinces climbed on the bandwagon. The government of Canada now defines the last Wednesday of February as Anti-Bullying Day. 

            So when I took the dog out for her morning walk yesterday, I was wearing a pink T-shirt. 

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Setting the stage for a lawless Canada

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday February 13, 2022


I’m trying to find impartial and unbiased words I can write about the convoys of trucks and truckers who have occupied Ottawa, blocked the border at Coutts in Alberta and Emerson in Manitoba, and snarled traffic at the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor and Detroit. 

            And I can’t find any. 

            I have no sympathy for them, or their cause. 

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