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The Writing On Your Heart: Carrying a Protest Sign Is a Lifelong Commitment

BY WYATT MASSEYJanuary 5, 2014

Under the emotionless gray sky of a Milwaukee winter, students filled the streets of Wisconsin Ave. with passion, carrying signs that read “God Loves All” or “Love, Not Hate.”

It was a special day. Not just because students stood up against hate, but for a more powerful reason.

It’s not often people carry a sign that says what they believe.

This morning, Marquette students did just that in a counter-protest against the Westboro Baptist Church members protesting on campus. However, watching our students proclaim God’s love for all, I was struck by a question for all those involved:

What happens when you put the sign down?

 

Hate is easy to find and it’s easy to oppose. Hate is a lightning rod for our attention. But it’s one thing to make a sign and hold it for an hour. To carry that sign, each and every day, through hardship and triumph, is another.

Photo by Matthew Serafin

Do the words written on your sign match the words written on your heart?

Protests like today’s end. You put your sign down and your voice, hoarse from chanting, goes back to normal. Your actions were passionate and just, but this was one day. The year has 364 more.

Those pieces of poster board can be hung on the wall, a remembrance to the day you stood up for justice, or they can remain in your hands. They can be carried every day — when you walk down the street, when you sit in the classroom and when you return home. They can be carried as you pass friends as well as strangers.

It may not be convenient. It may not be comfortable.

In the coming days, hate may not stand across the street with its own signs. You may stand alone in the rain and the cold. The cameras won’t be on. People may not watch. People may not care.

Would you hold your sign then?

Wyatt Massey

Wyatt is a junior at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There he studies Writing-Intensive English and Advertising, a combination he hopes to apply in a future career of running media for a nonprofit. He is an advocate for human dignity and is interested in how modern methods of communication can be used to spur societal change.On campus, Wyatt is the social media coordinator and co-president of Midnight Run, a student-led initiative that uses voluntary direct service to work alongside the hungry and homeless in Milwaukee. In his free time, Wyatt writes a blog on Medium, works out with friends, listens to country music and cheers for his three favorite teams: the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers and Detroit Tigers.

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