It’s important to read the signs

While practically sitting on the sign post that asked people not to feed the waterfowl, this mother was busy distributing bread crusts to her children to feed the Canada geese that were clustering around the kids to get the next morsel.

My wife and I observed this as we strolled around the McKenzie ponds on a sunny afternoon.

We also watched one time as a fellow persisted in trying to open a door, rattling and shaking it as if to break it free, all the while ignoring the sign that read, “Please use next door,” along with an arrow pointing to the left door of a double set he was trying to open.

The funniest sign I have ever seen was one that was made up and circulated on the internet. It was a large caution sign on a roadside that read, “Do not approach this sign, the sharp edges and corners could cause injury and even death; handling of the sign is prohibited.”

Then, in small letters at the bottom, was the statement, “Also, the bridge is out ahead.”

Once while driving through Melfort, Sask., on our way to Winnipeg, we passed a small church, where we saw a sign that read, “Please slow down, the person you hit may be a Baptist.”

While many signs can be humorous, the large majority of them have a serious message, giving directions, warnings and other cautions, as well as explanations of sights and featured areas.

The election we have just survived in all likelihood doubled the sign count in Alberta.

Why are signs a serious enough subject to write about? Perhaps they are indicative of how we go through life focused on our own agenda, oblivious to the signs that warn us, such as a stop sign, resulting in the tragic loss of life.

Of even more concern though, are the unprinted signs, such as people’s reactions to a government’s actions. If that government read the signs and took them seriously enough to change course, they might survive another election.

Some of the signs that we all tend to be guilty of ignoring are the signs of people experiencing difficulties such as addictions, emotional trauma and more.

Words are not necessary here; the visible results are the indicator that many signs were ignored, resulting in the problems being experienced.

For many parents, behavioural changes in their children are signs that far too often are disregarded, or not even recognized.

People not having responded to these signs is often what we dealt with at the kitchen. Even once a person is on the street, the public is unaware of the signs, of the difficulties faced by those individuals. We just don’t want to be bothered.

You see, by ignoring all these different signs, we won’t have to become involved. Becoming involved would make us feel obligated to act, something most people would rather not do. Quite possibly, because it would take us totally out of our comfort zone.

In an average day, I would venture a guess that we face a few thousand signs. By ignoring these signs, we can often find ourselves in trouble, lost or just plain confused.

Perhaps if we would take more care to heed signs, both printed and displayed, and be willing to take on the tasks required, even if it is outside of our comfort level, we could facilitate a change in the hearts and lives of our neighbours.

The signs are all around us; how will we respond?

Chris Salomons is a retired Red Deer resident with a concern for the downtrodden.

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