Not Your Average Prom Queen: Word to Your Mother
It’s Mother’s Day again?
Didn’t I just send flowers for that holiday?
Do I have to send cards to all my friends who have suddenly and uncoolly morphed into mothers?
Isn’t this just one more Hallmark holiday?
Mother’s Day, as pink and fluffy as it may be, in fact is not a Hallmark holiday – at least not originally. In the wake of the violence our country has been experiencing (and maybe celebrating, I cringe to say) this is a good time to reflect on the pacifist origins of Mom’s day.
The celebration of women and mothers can be traced back into antiquity; however the more modern movement was sparked in the end of the 19th century with a call to women by Julia Ward Howe, a US feminist, poet and social reformer, who wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” in the wake of the carnage of the Civil War.
Here is the full text:
“Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!
“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.”
Howe believed that it was the responsibility of women to shape society, because women were able to act without violence and war (unlike what she had witnessed in the fighting of men during the Civil War). Still, no Mother’s Day was officially established until Anna Jarvis of West Virginia convinced Woodrow Wilson to make the holiday official in 1914.
Today, Mother’s Day might be pretty commercial, but its no less a reason to recognize and support women who raise pacifistic and open-minded children, women who support their LGBTQ children, women who march and fight for the rights of their parents, siblings, children and friends to live in a world without fear of violence.
In our community, we must remind ourselves that an intellectual fight with weapons of logic and words is still our best method of winning battles.
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