"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Mother's Day Proclamation


In 1870, Julia Ward Howe (who is widely known for having written "The Battle Hymn of the Republic") called for women to rise up and oppose all forms of war. Believing strongly that peace and equal rights for all people were crucial global issues, Julia hoped to inspire an international movement of women for peace with her Mother's Day Proclamation of 1870.

As peacemakers, Julia’s Mother’s Day Proclamation goes to the heart of our struggle in a violent world, and from a universal and timeless feminine perspective. During this year’s Mother’s Day weekend vigil and nonviolent action at the gates of Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor (home port for eight Trident nuclear missile submarines and the largest storehouse of nuclear weapons in the United States) we will read this proclamation as we honor mothers and create hope for the children as we work for a nuclear weapons-free world.

Some people will scoff at the notion of a nuclear weapons-free world; to those I humbly request that they explain their position to the children who may suffer the consequences of the world's nuclear folly, should we fail in our task. Peacemaking (in every form and at every level) is not optional, and it must be universal. It must be our central focus in an increasingly violent world. And nuclear weapons are the ultimate violence.

The Psalmist writes, “Long enough have I been dwelling with those who hate peace. I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for fighting” (Psalm 120:6-7). Long enough have we listened to the men in power who continue to tell us that they know what is best; just look at the results. Have they ever bothered to ask the women? Here is a woman’s voice speaking to us from well over a century past, but with a voice that is as true and clear today as it was then saying, “Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.





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 voice 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...
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 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.


Note: Learn more about Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action's May 9th vigil and nonviolent action at http://gzcenter.org/.

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