Another mother’s day

In America, this annual observance to “honor” our mothers has become an occasion for little more than a routine, obligatory nod to mom and a merchandising opportunity for most.  But it didn’t start this way.

Julia Ward Howe’s 1870 Mother’s Day Proclamation was a heart cry for peace.  She wrote:

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.”

You can read her entire proclamation here.

Mothers of America, how are your hearts today? Are they warm and happy from all the gifts and attention? Are you feeling some heartburn from your traditional all-you-can-eat brunch buffet? Or are your hearts breaking for the Afghan mothers who suffer every day from abusive religious fanatics or from the deadly carnage inflicted by US war machines?

According to a May 6th report in the NY Times about a recent US air strike in Afghanistan, “…women and children had sought shelter in orchards and houses. Six houses were bombed and destroyed completely, and people in the houses still remain under the rubble… villagers, crazed with grief, were collecting mangled bodies in blankets and shawls and piling them on three tractors.”

With flowers and feasts, another mother’s day in America has come and gone. I’m sure President Obama with his perfect etiquette extolled the virtues of his dear wife and mother-in-law and celebrated appropriately.

But how can he–how can we–continue on our self-satisfied ways, unfeeling and blind to the suffering of another mother who is desperately searching through rubble for pieces of her children?

~Nancy Logsdon Mandelkorn

2 responses to “Another mother’s day

  1. Wow, Nancy – everything you say about Mother’s Day is SO important. I remember last Mother’s Day I had a discussion with my extended family, including mother, aunt, uncle, grown cousins and their adult kids, about the origins of the holiday and how it WASN’T just declared by President Wilson, as some historic accounts allege. As a Girl Scout and a peace activist during the Vietnam War i’ve always loved the Julie Ward Howe story! I also love how my father (when he was alive), knowing i’d chosen not to bear children of my own in this lifetime, was always careful to acknowledge ME as well as the other women in the family on Mother’s Day, because he knew how much I’ve mothered and parented and mentored in my community in my own ways and how sad it made me to not always be acknowledged for that. Thanks for your thoughts and your sharing of them.

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