March 23rd, 2018

These are your monkeys and it’s your circus

By Medicine Hat News Opinion on January 2, 2018.

Too many times in our stupidly busy and emotionally intense society, we believe that it is better or — let’s be honest — easier, for ourselves to not just say anything to people who are having a bad day or in extreme cases look to be in distress.

“Not my monkeys, not my circus,” is a phrase I’ve heard too many times before.

I always felt quite odd about hearing that. Used to bother me because then I selfishly thought, “well what would happen if it were me or someone I cared about and no one wanted to help?”

Well, 2017 happened. Like a lot of people I know who have hurt and suffered far more than I have, 2017 has been a tough one for a lot of people. Perhaps you know people who have been through a lot of difficulty.

Maybe it was you.

Think back to all the times you were helped or watched when a stranger or someone you knew were shown an act of compassion. How did it make you feel?

There seems to be a lot of stress, angst and difficulty out there as people battle depression, financial and work-related pressures or relationship issues. Perhaps you have noticed there seems to be more of these problems out there. Years ago, when people were suffering “personal problems” it was hidden and perhaps even taboo. Certainly it was not discussed openly.

However in this day and age of openness and the information highway with many different roads of social media being travelled, there is more discussions and less guilt and shame about discussing problems so the awareness is at least there. Now, the next step is for people to get involved or act on situations they witness. It’s not a matter of some grandiose act of being a Good Samaritan.

It just starts with a simple ounce of compassion and giving a damn about your fellow human.

Getting involved doesn’t mean you have to become a full fledged psychologist or a grief counsellor and completely solve the problem. Maybe all it needs is an encouraging word, an offer to steer them into a proper direction. Heck, sometimes it’s just a smile when someone is having a bad day.

If you see someone who needs help, it really doesn’t take that much time to just do a little something. In the greater scheme of things, a few moments out of your life can make a huge difference to someone who is experiencing difficulty.

I’ve seen it said on one of those motivation memes you see on social media sites like Pinterest: Be kind to everyone you meet because you don’t not know the battles they are facing. It is so true.

Whether you are religious or believe in karma, a few moments of kindness and compassion go a long way. You never know when your circus is going to go a little haywire.

If you know someone who is in major distress in Alberta and needs a hand up at a professional level, there are options through the provincial chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association. These include: Alberta Mental Health Help Line is 1-877-303-2642; Alberta Addictions Helpline is 1-866-332-2322; Kids Help Phone is 1-800-668-6868; First Nations for Wellness Help Line 1-855-242-3310; and the Rural Distress Line is 1-800-232-7288. In Saskatchewan, call the provincial Saskatchewan Health Line at 8-1-1 or 1-877-800-0002 for professional health advice. If you are in a crisis situation call 9-1-1 or go to your local emergency. You can also call Southwest Crisis Services at (306) 778-3386 for help in Swift Current and southwest Sask.

(Ryan Dahlman is the managing editor of Prairie Post and Prairie Post West. If you would like to comment on this column or would like to write a letter to the editor email

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