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

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2

Mar

2021

Walking billboards

Author: Jim Taylor

I wore a pink T-shirt yesterday, Anti-Bullying Day in Canada. But because this isn’t T-shirt weather, I wore it over the top of my other clothes, to make it more visible. 

            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. 

            So when I took the dog out for her morning walk yesterday, I was wearing a pink T-shirt. Also, red-and-white socks, a thank-you gift from the Canadian Red Cross for a donation in my wife’s memory. A blue tuque from my church’s Thrift Shop. A Rotary pin. 

            And I thought, I’m a walking billboard!


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3

Mar

2019

Symbolic gestures can make a difference

Author: Jim Taylor

I wore a pink shirt last Wednesday. Pink is not my colour. It makes me look like cotton candy with a beard.

            But Wednesday was anti-bullying day, so I wore pink.

            It feels like a futile gesture. After all, what difference will it make if one old man wears a pink shirt for one day? School yard bullies won’t see it at all. Neither will patriarchal males in India and Africa who think of women as something inferior, to do with as they please. Nor will my pink shirt influence the behaviour of egocentric rulers in Riyadh or Moscow, Washington or Damascus.

            Short answer -- no difference at all.

            So why bother?

            I hear that response often, when I get into discussions about the state of the world. 


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17

Dec

2017

When your child is hurting…

Author: Jim Taylor

I have a lot of sympathy for Kimberley Jones. You haven’t heard of her? Almost certainly, you have heard of her son, 11-year-old Keaton Jones.

            The Facebook post of Keaton, crying in the seat of his mother’s car as she brought him home from school has now had 20 million views, and been featured on newscasts around the world.

            A tearful Keaton asked why kids wanted to bully, why they picked on innocent kids, why they poured milk on him. “It’s not okay,” he told his mother’s cell phone. “It’s not their fault they’re different.”

            I sympathize with her, because I too had a son who suffered from teasing. And perhaps some bullying. He was born with cystic fibrosis, an incurable, hereditary, and at the time terminal illness.



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19

Feb

2017

Bullying goes beyond schoolyards

Author: Jim Taylor

I don’t know much about bullying. Either by being bullied, or being a bully myself. 

            I had a boss, for a short while, who was a bully. And when I was a skinny kid with an English accent, the boy next door attempted to bully me, but a bigger kid took me under his wing, and that ended the bullying.

            I won’t pretend my high school had no bullying. I didn’t get bullied – at least, not that I can remember. \But I remember one boy who seemed to get constantly picked on – perhaps because he never fought back. One day some of the other kids locked him into a locker, too cramped to move, with no light, for a whole period. 

            I didn’t stop them. Maybe that makes me an accomplice. 

            But here’s the thing – not one of those people would have called what they were doing “bullying.”

            Bullying is defined by the victim. Never by the bully.


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Categories: Sharp Edges

Tags: bullying

4

Dec

2016

Spilling your guts as a writing model

Author: Jim Taylor

Newspaper journalists are supposed to be dispassionate observers of the subjects they write about. They’re not supposed to have feelings themselves.

            Stan Chung flips that dictum upside down. In the columns he writes for the Kelowna Courier, he’s more than just personal. He spills his guts. And then he lays his guts out on the operating table and dissects them. Stan bares his soul to grab us by the heart.

            He describes his writing technique as “creative non-fiction.” It’s real. It’s fact. But it’s dramatized for impact.

            Most of us – and I include myself in this generalization – tend to sandpaper smooth the raw edges of our psyches. We find rationalizations for our actions. We shift some of the blame to someone else.

            Stan refuses to buy into that pattern. He’s ruthlessly honest with the feelings most of us try to forget. Or to bury. He writes a biography of pain that is also a celebration of survival.



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