What would your plac­ard say?

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

Living Now - - Contents - by Joyce and Barry Vis­sell

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

Jan­uary 21 will long be re­mem­bered as the day of the women’s marches. 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. 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.


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. We, along with our friend Jim, 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

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.

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? 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. n

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Joyce & Barry Vis­sell, a nurse/ther­a­pist and psy­chi­a­trist cou­ple since 1964, are coun­sel­lors near Santa Cruz, CA, who are widely re­garded as among the world’s top ex­perts on con­scious re­la­tion­ship and per­sonal growth. They are the au­thors of The Shared Heart, Mod­els of Love, Risk to Be Healed, The Heart’s Wis­dom, Meant to Be, and A Mother’s Fi­nal Gift.

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