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

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26

Feb

2022

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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25

Feb

2022

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

25

Feb

2022

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

20

Feb

2022

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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20

Feb

2022

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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11

Feb

2022

Looking ahead to Valentine’s Day

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday February 10,2022

 

I wonder if anyone will send me a Valentine’s Day card next week. 

            I haven’t actually made a Valentine card since I was in school. Back then, a card from Dorothy meant only that she had drawn my name out of a hat. 

            In reality, I’m sure, Dorothy thought of me as a boring math geek. True love was not on her mind.


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6

Feb

2022

Ukraine crisis: the prequels

Author: Jim Taylor

Sunday January 22, 2022

 

Let’s set the scene, first. 

            A country long considered a satellite state, almost a colony, of a nuclear superpower changes its government. The new government rejects its former connections with the superpower, and tries to build an alliance with an opposing superpower. 

            The first superpower feels threatened. It masses its armed forces close to the offending nation. It threatens to restore the previous status quo by force.

            Meanwhile, the other nuclear superpower ships heavy weapons to its new ally. 

            Nuclear war seems imminent.

            You probably think I’m writing about the current situation in Ukraine. I'm not. I’m describing the Cuban Missile Crisis. 


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6

Feb

2022

The tricks we use to help us remember

Author: Jim Taylor

Thursday February 3, 2022

 

Welcome to February. In our calendars, February is the odd month out – although it has an odd number of days only every fourth year. If months had feelings, February would surely feel discriminated against. The shortest in class, for example. The exception to the rule. The lonely one.

Thirty days has September,

April, June, and November.

All the rest have thirty-one

Except for February alone…

            That simple rhyme is a mnemonic – a way of helping people remember. 


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Categories: Soft Edges

Tags: Mnemonics, February

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