Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Mother's Day Proclamation

Few people realize that the original Mother's Day was far from the card companies' crass commercialization of familial ties that we celebrate today. The first Mother's Day began with a proclamation written by Julia Ward Howe. Although most commonly remembered for penning the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," Ward Howe grew weary of the triumphalism of war and violence and in 1870 put out this rallying cry to women of the world:

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have breasts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
"We will not have great questions decided 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 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 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 at 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.

Today women around the globe were called to a similar manifesto by a small group of women in Ohio. Inspired by the book, The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering by Sharon Mehdi, they put a YouTube call out to the women of the world, inviting them to join together in their quest for peace and justice by standing together at 1 PM in parks and public squares.

Won't you join them?

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