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

Sunday, May 8, 2011

"Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of Justice."

Dear Friends,

Today is a day in which we tend to honor mothers; generally with cards, flowers and perhaps a nice meal.  Mother's Day, like many holidays, has become a routine and, in a very real sense, diluted in terms of its original meaning.  Yes, we need to honor our mothers, and all the women in our lives, who have nurtured us to fulfill our potential.  Yet, the original Mother's Day was something far different than a day of cards and flowers; it was a day intended to recognize that women create and nurture life, while men have, for the better part of human existence, destroyed that very potential that we all wish to fulfill.  It was meant to be a very real and powerful statement directed at those who perpetrated and perpetuated war.

When Julia Ward Howe wrote her Mother's Day Proclamation, she was responding to the horrible carnage of the U.S. Civil War, in which so many women lost their sons.  Howe and so many other women were committed to abolishing war, and in 1872 Howe proposed the establishment of an annual Mother's Day for Peace.  Long since that time (the commercialized version of) Mother's Day has, for the most part, been sanitized to remove any trace of women's civil, political activism.  And - Men continue to perpetuate the horrific trans-national violence and war that consumes our young, our treasure, our future.
Fortunately for our world, today's women have not forgotten the message and intent of Howe and all the other uppity women who came before them trying to make the world a more peaceful place where all children can grow up and realize their potential.  I am thankful for all those women who not only dream of a better world, but work to make it so.    
Peace and Thanks to Nurturing Women Everywhere,


Mothers' Day Proclamation: Julia Ward Howe, Boston, 1870
Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our 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 our 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 to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place 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.
Julia Ward Howe

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