Sunday, May 08, 2005

AVERAGE WOMAN reminds us that Mother's Day began as an expression of opposition to war, which has torn so many sons and daughters from their mother's arms. Anna Jarvis founded Mother's Day after the Civil War, as a way of promoting peace and friendship among the families on both sides of that war. In 1870, Julia Ward Howe wrote a Mother's Day Proclamation as part of a larger campaign to get mothers involved in working to end war.

Distressed by her experience of the realities of war, determined that peace was one of the two most important causes of the world (the other being equality in its many forms) and seeing war arise again in the world in the Franco-Prussian War, she called in 1870 for women to rise up and oppose war in all its forms. She wanted women to come together across national lines, to recognize what we hold in common above what divides us, and commit to finding peaceful resolutions to conflicts.
I think it's important to remember that Mother's Day started out with a deeper meaning than adding to Hallmark's bottom line. So here is Julia Ward Howe's Proclamation in full, as a reminder that the finest gift any mother could receive would be never again having to hear the words: "I regret to inform you ..."

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of fears!

Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,

"Our husbands shall 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 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 bosom of the devasted 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 out dishonor nor violence indicate possession.

As men have often forsaken the plow 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 then solemnly take counsel with each other as the means whereby the great human family can live in peace,

And each bearing after her own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

Happy Mother's Day, everyone.

No comments: