Women protesting, holding signs

What would your placard say?

In Politics, Social Development and Justice by Barry VissellLeave a Comment

January 21 will long be remembered as the day of the women’s marches. If you were to march what would your sign say?


It is so inspiring that women from each continent participated, even Antarctica. We just watched a march on the news that took place in Israel in which Jewish and Arab women protested together. We could not read their signs but I could only imagine that they all wanted peace. There seems to have been such a feeling of joy within these marches.

Barry and I had scheduled a four-day mentoring session during this time, not knowing that these marches would take place. I woke up that morning feeling that something special must be done to honour all of the women and men marching all around the world, and in some way join in their energy. And so Barry and I and the nine women in our group sat at our dining room table and made our own signs using large pieces of paper, crayons, markers, and coloured pencils. We asked each woman to express the deepest feeling they would like to put on their sign, just as if they would be on full display in Washington, DC.

When the signs were finished, we went into the living room and each person stood up with their sign and spoke about why the words were so meaningful to them. In this way each person gave a little talk which was inspiring and also an insightful look into who they are and their deepest values.

My sign was quite simple and said, “Love one another as I have loved you – Jesus”. I have always loved this quote, and my mother repeated it to me often when I was growing up. Jesus loved all people. They did not have to followers of his own Jewish religion for him to love and help them. He gave water to a non-Jewish woman at a well, which was forbidden. He helped a prostitute and saw goodness in her so that she wanted to follow him. He had dinner at a tax collector’s house; a man everyone despised. He invited another tax collector to be one of his followers. Even his own disciples criticised him for opening his heart and love to so many different types of people others were shunning. His response was that he came to help all, a true sense of equality. Equality and love for all beings is what I want to march for.

Barry went last to hold up his sign and we all loved it. “I am a man dedicated to making it safe for all women”. Truly this is who Barry is. Can you only imagine a world in which more men could hold up a sign like that and truly mean it? I posted a photo of Barry holding this sign on my very small Facebook page and am pleased with how far it went. It is a message needed at this time.

Man holding sign

After each person spoke about their sign we then marched around our living room holding our signs and singing a powerful song. We felt connected to each person who was out marching the streets in towns and cities around the world.

Did the marches all over the world do any good?

Forty-eight years ago, Barry and I were in one of the first civil rights marches in the south. We lived in Nashville, Tennessee at the time and we heard about a civil rights march several hours away in the deeper rural south. Along with our friend Jim, we were excited to go and participate. We reached the small southern town and a man named Dick Gregory was there as the organiser and speaker. We were the only white people in attendance. We were welcomed, but told it was more dangerous for us. We marched with these ‘poor blacks’ (as we referred to them then) down the streets of the town. The ‘whites’ looking on yelled and cursed at us and some threw things. It was loud and noisy and scary, but we continued down the street. Then it became violent. The police came and started using clubs and arresting people. One of the organisers told us to leave quickly as they would be hardest on us. Like Harry Potter and the invisible cloak, we left undetected and drove home realising that we had placed ourselves in a very dangerous situation.

There must have been TV coverage of the march, for the next day I was called into my place of work as a public health nurse and told I could never march again or I would lose my job and never be able to get another one in the city.

One march. Did it do any good? Was our effort and putting ourselves in danger worth it? I like to feel that yes it was. True, it was only a drop in the bucket of what had to happen, and yet it was a drop that we participated in. Forty years later, our country proudly elected our first black president. All those marches, all those signs, all of that effort in the end truly paid off.

What would your sign say?

What would your sign say? As a really good practice, sit at your dining room table with crayons or markers and paper and make a sign that holds your deepest feeling about what is going on right now in our world. Make it positive, inspiring and loving, something you could show your children and explain why you wrote what you did. Or you could sit with a group of friends and create your signs together, or sit with your children and talk about it. Your sign, and especially how you live the truth of what it says, will place another drop into the bucket of what is needed right now.


Here are a few opportunities to bring more love and growth into your life, at the following longer events led by Barry and Joyce Vissell:

 Jul 16-21 — Shared Heart Summer Retreat at Breitenbush Hot Springs, OR

Oct 11-17 — Assisi Retreat, Italy

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