The true story of Mother's Day precedes Hallmark cards and flower delivery services. It originated as a day of mothers gathering to demand peace in the face of the carnage of the Civil War, and Julia Ward Howe's original proclamation and rallying cry reads as all too pertinent to our current global situation. Of course, a day to celebrate our mothers and our mothering selves is great, but our culture is all too quick to trade action for consumption. As mothers it is our sons and daughters (and husbands and selves) who are turned into killers by the machine of war. As mothers it is another woman's child being killed by our own. As mothers we hold the power of human life in our bodies, and we hold the moral authority to declare that all of life is sacred. If we hold our tongues, who will speak for peace? If we are so easily silenced by the command from on high to consume as usual, who will show the moral fiber to name this madness for what it is?
A great short essay describing the evolution of Mother's Day is here, written by a UC Davis prof, and below is a poster from my very favorite artist Nikki McClure, which can be purchased here. Also, many awesome women's peace organizations exist today, such as Code Pink and Mothers Acting Up. Check it out, and let's think together about what kind of values we want to instill in our children, and what kind of world we are creating for them.
Mother's Day Proclamation - 1870
by Julia Ward Howe
Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.