Sunday, May 14, 2006

Wisdom From the First Mothers' Day

On this Mothers' Day 2006, we who brought life into the world look around us and realize there is still so far to go, still so many lessons that humankind seems unwilling to learn. Lessons we must keep teaching our own children, even as the adults who control much of their world seem oblivious.

We despair at the needless violence and hunger and suffering that persist despite all the advances our species has made. And yet we press on, because we must. My friend and co-author, Linda, sent along the following, which she received from yet another mother, Sara. I thought it beautiful and wanted to share it.

In 1870, Julia Ward Howe, a poet and abolitionist, called for a Mothers' Peace Day Observance--a day that mothers would set aside to come together to work for peace. In 1872, the first Mothers' Peace Day Observance was held, and the meetings continued for several years. Below is her proclamation that explains, in her own words, the goals of the original Mothers' Day in the United States.

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly: "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 bosom 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...

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
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Today, I celebrate and salute my own dear and extraordinary mother, "Queen Mum II" and sister, "Princess", along with every mother and child reading this who dreams of a peaceful world without hunger and suffering and who, in his or her own way, works toward the realization of that dream.

(Thanks to Linda, Sara, and Hedda)

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