Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day Manifesto


My mother used to clip out things from the newspaper that she thought would interest me and pass them on. It was her way of keeping me (and others) in her heart and mind, her practice of letting us know that she was constantly thinking of us.

Yesterday, I cleaned up the pile of books on my bedside table and discovered some of these clippings, along with some old magazine articles I had saved. And one of them (probably from me, not her) was a Mother’s Day Proclamation from Julia Ward Howe. Best remembered as the author of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” (a song that ironically became an inspirational soldier’s hymn), she was an abolitionist, pacifist, social activist, poet, author and advocate of women’s rights. Born in 1819, she lived in Boston with a husband dedicated to social reform, yet still conservative about women’s roles and rights. She met Abraham Lincoln, Charles Dickens, Margaret Fuller and others and in 1870, published her Mother’s Day Proclamation.

A sobering statistic: Since 1776, America has been at war for 222 our of 239 years. Today is Mother's Day. This is a timely and (sadly) timeless piece:

“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 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 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.”

 Mother’s Unite! And fathers and sons and daughters. Time to say, “Enough!” and mean it.

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