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

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Elites profit while their nations drown

Author: Jim Taylor

King Canute sat on his royal throne. His courtiers grovelled at his feet. “Hail to the King,” they chanted, “You are all-powerful.”

            “Take me to the beach,” the king commanded.

            So they carried him to the edge of the ocean, and set his throne down on the sand. And the waters rose, and covered the king’s toes.

            “Make the sea go back,” the courtiers urged. “Stop the waters from rising.”

            “Idiots!” snorted the king. “No human has that power.”

            “Then we’re doomed!” the courtiers wailed. “What can we do?”

             “Sell the beach for a tourist destination,” King Canute ordered. “By the time it’s underwater, we can all be living in Switzerland with fat bank accounts.”

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Skinny dipping

Author: Jim Taylor

I slide into the water,

like slipping into a silk robe.

I have left my concerns with my clothes.

In the water, I have no weight, no body, no burden.

Soft velvet caresses me everywhere; 

I have no private parts. 


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Categories: Poetry

Tags: skinny dipping, naked, free




Living with a stopped clock

Author: Jim Taylor

My watch quit, at seven seconds after 5:16 p.m. I can be absolutely precise about the time, because I consulted my watch several times over the next few hours.  I can’t imagine why I kept checking my watch, when I knew it would give me the wrong time, but I did. Time seems, for some reason, to be important for me. 

            Finally, I gave up fighting the inevitable; I went to a watch store and got a new battery. My watch is working fine again. 

So why, I wonder, do some church-goers prefer to live with their clocks stopped? Why won’t they do, for their faith and doctrine, what they do for their watches?

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Beware of politicians quoting Bible verses

Author: Jim Taylor

For a hundred years, the Canadian government took children from their parents and incarcerated them in Indian Residential Schools. For their own good.

            The feds have since issued apologies. They’ve paid around $5 billion in compensation. And all governments have paid many billions more in welfare, prisons, and social assistance.

            In the 1950s, the B.C. government took Doukhobor children away from their families, and locked them up in a prison camp in New Denver. For the children’s own good, of course.

            In the 1960s, various governments did the Sixties Scoop. Once again Indigenous children were separated from their parents and placed with white foster families. For their own good, of course.

            We’re now reaping a bitter harvest of alcoholism and drug dependency, of depression and suicide, of adults who don’t know how to be parents.

            And then the Trump administration set a policy of removing children from parents who enter the United States illegally, and locking the children up in detention centres.

            Can’t we ever learn from past mistakes?

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Free will changes all futures

Author: Jim Taylor

“If I could only go back and do it again,” I hear people lament. “If I only knew then what I know now, I would have done it differently.”

            But, says logic, if you went back in time, you would still make the same decision, for good or ill. Because at that time you acted on the basis of the knowledge you had. All of the knowledge you had. And if you went back, that would still be the same. Because you can’t take 50 additional years of experience and learning back with you. 

            You were what you were. And your decisions were determined for you by your experiences. 

            All of this depends on an underlying assumption – that we humans are nothing more than a product of our environment.

            Or, to put it in more traditional language, that we have no free will. 

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When writers don’t know what to write about

Author: Jim Taylor

           If you’ve ever wondered what writers write about when they don’t know what to write about, that incident might give you a clue. 

            We retreat into the commonplace world, the world we actually know about from personal experience, and hope to connect with larger events. 

            The problem is not having nothing to write about. The problem is having too much to write about. 

            Take this last week, for example. 

            Boatloads of refugees get sent back to sea in the Mediterranean, by nations unwilling to assume responsibility for disasters that they didn’t create, while the nations that caused the problems stay a comfortable distance away. 

            Volcanoes demonstrate that they can have different personalities. The one in Hawaii is relatively benign – dangerous, but not explosive. The one in Guatemala erupts explosively, searing its victims in hot ash and gases. The one in Washington… well, enough said. 

            The G-7 summit in Quebec, that became the G-6 summit after Russia got kicked out, became the G-5 summit when everyone was out of step except one man.

            And then the world’s two most unpredictable national leaders met in Singapore, to hatch a vague commitment to make the world safer.


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Author: Jim Taylor

Dedicated to those who find they must make difficult choices, that may mean letting go of something that used to be precious. 

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Work together for the good of all

Author: Jim Taylor

Being polite isn’t always the best policy. 

            I’m not suggesting that it’s good to be rude, harsh, contemptuous, or difficult. Not at all. But if being polite, being nice, gets in the way of true cooperation, social manners may need to take second place. 

            I doubt if my father ever said an angry word to another human. He was the kind of person who tried to see the best in everyone. Who would never push his way to the front of a line. Who always let someone else go through the door first. 

            But there were occasions when the usual rules of courtesy didn’t work.  Entering Lion's Gas Bridge in Vancouver, for example, where eight lanes of traffic have to merge into two,

or sometimes into one. 

On one occasion, though, my father couldn’t break the habit of being polite. When it was his turn to mesh, he gestured to the car on his left to go ahead. 

            The other driver jammed on her brakes, expecting my father to slip into his slot. 

            Dad waited for her. 

            Both cars came to a standstill, waiting for the other to make the first move.

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My body won’t let me

Author: Jim Taylor

I watch a friend aging and fading. The process of dying is not for the faint-hearted.

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Categories: Poetry

Tags: aging, dying




Three-Year-Old Daughter

Author: Jim Taylor

A song of joy about my three-year-old daughter, dancing in a morning-misted meadow. Written long ago but I still love it.

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Categories: Poetry

Tags: daughter, butterfly

«June 2018»



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