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

Thursday, May 8, 2014

"Arise, then, women of this day!"


Long before the holiday we know as Mother's Day was established, Julia Ward Howe wrote her Mother's Day Proclamation (in 1870), responding to the horrible carnage of the U.S. Civil War, in which so many women lost their sons and husbands.

Howe and so many other women of that time 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 (am I wrong???) continue to perpetuate the horrific trans-national violence and war that consumes our young, our treasure, our future.
Julia Ward Howe

Howe's Mother's Day Proclamation was an extraordinary statement declaring that women should not allow their children to be taken from them to learn to kill the children of the women of other nations, nor should they allow their husbands go to war. Howe's disdain for the warring actions of the men running the show was clear as she said that such "great questions" must not be "decided by irrelevant agencies."

The final paragraph of Howe's proclamation was a call to women to come together in a "general congress" for peace, which is conceptually a framework for what the United Nations might look like if the nations of the Security Council (including the United States) would honor its noble intentions.

So, "Arise, then, women of this day", just as many women did in response to Howe in 1870. Men have had their chance, and failed miserably. The world continues (paraphrasing Howe) "to reek with carnage." Women - Refuse to send your husbands, your sons and your daughters off to kill the children of others.

It is high time to create the conditions whereby (as Howe stated it), "the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God."

With great thanks to nurturing women everywhere,


P.S. - This Saturday, May 10th, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action will hold its annual Mother's Day weekend observance with a tea party (vigil and nonviolent direct action) at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, which houses the largest operational concentration of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal. Learn more at gzcenter.org.  Join us for tea and cakes and much, much more.


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, Boston, 1870

No comments: