We have just Celebrated, Mother's Day and Earth Day and I wanted to share this amazing reminder about the origins of Mother's Day that was posted to an e-list that I subscribe to. What do Mother's Day and Earth Day, Peace on Earth and War all have in common?
The connection between motherhood, peace and social justice was
clear to many 19th century middle-class women as Elaine Charkowski points out in her posting "Mother's Day established by Civil War mothers as anti-war protest".
Our permanent war economies and components of societies around the world that collaborate in the creating of military satellites, heat seeking laser weaponry technology, robotic drones planes as well as on the ground jihads and suicide bombers are not the path of peace by those societies claiming to be a peaceful people.
In their book, "War in Heaven", a Nobel Prize-nominated peace activist Helen Caldicott and a former U.S. foreign service officer Craig Eisendrath (who helped write the Outer Space Treaty of 1967) look at the history of military uses of space and the current plans for "militarizing the heavens," including kinetic, laser, nuclear bombardment, and anti-satellite weapons. Contrary to the claims of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that the United States faces a "space Pearl Harbor," Caldicott and Eisendrath show that the United States itself is today the principal obstruction to passage of an international treaty banning weapons from outer space. I argue that all men and women of all nations from workers to religious to the purveyors and suppliers to the military economy around the world are committing the most egregious and sinful acts toward humanity and mother earth.
The environmental damage from all wars—past and present has taken a severe toll on our human psyche, and have fueled generations of gruesome hatreds in the name of nations, in the name of Gods, in the name of power, or to control resources and people's minds.
Now there is much more at stake. The resources, energy, human power and pollution and destruction that is involved in continuing the machinery of war is of the most critical challenge that is now before us. The training of our youth in preparation for the participation and desensitization to violence and feeding them video games in the market place and with the multitude of black market guns infiltrating our communities is the fault of each society that turns a blind eye to the corporate and religious powers that sell us the need for guns and war.
Do read this and I hope you are moved to a heart based action as a response. Do support your local environmental and peace groups or start one!
Mother's Day established by Civil War mothers as anti-war protest
By Elaine Charkowski
Most people associate Mother's Day with flowers and sentimental
Mothers Day cards. However, Mothers Day was created as an anti-war
protest by women whose sons were killed by their fellow Americans in
the Civil War.
Writer and social-justice activist Julia Ward Howe (1819-1899) was
born in New York City. She was the first woman elected to the
American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her works include The Life of
Margaret Fuller (1883), From Sunset Ridge: Poems Old and New (1898),
and Reminiscences 1819-1899 (1899).
She was a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church. In 1870, she
wrote the Mothers Day Proclamation to inspire the world's women to
protect their sons by ending war.
Howe worked for social justice with her husband Samuel Gridley Howe
who wrote for the Boston Commonwealth, an anti-slavery newspaper. She
visited a Union army camp and wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Howe also fought for women's rights and founded the New England
Woman's Club, The Association for the Advancement of Women, and
headed the American branch of the Woman's International Peace
Below is a history (her story) of Mother's Day and some of the
accomplishments of Howe and other women activists. Unfortunately
their struggle to promote peace was largely unpublicized by today's
male-dominated media that obsesses over war and violence.
The Creation and Commercialization of Mother's Day
1858- Social-justice activist Anna Reeves Jarvis organizes "Mother's
Works Days" in West Virginia to improve sanitation in Appalachian
communities. During the Civil War, Jarvis encourages women to leave
their families to care for wounded soldiers on both sides. She
organizes meetings to persuade men to stop killing each other.
1870-Julia Ward Howe writes the anti-war Mothers Day Proclamation
1872-Howe proposes an annual Mother's Day for Peace. For the next 40
years, Americans celebrate Mothers' Day for Peace on June 2.
1913-Congress declares the 2nd Sunday in May as Mother's Day (it's
no longer Mothers Day for Peace). The growing consumer culture
redefines women as "consumers." Greedy businessmen and politicians
embrace the idea of making money from the sacrifices of mothers.
According to the trade journal the Florists' Review, "This was a
holiday that could be exploited."
The daughter of Anna Jarvis campaigned against those who "would
undermine Mother's Day with their greed" by selling expensive
flowers. Unfortunately within a few years, the Florists' Review
announced that it was "Miss Jarvis who was completely squelched."
1980's-An echo of the original Mother's Day for Peace; several
pacifist groups demonstrate against war on Mother's Day.
Mother's Day ballooned into a billion-dollar industry. Ruth Rosen,
professor of history at UC Davis said, "Americans may revere the idea
of motherhood and love their own mothers, but not all mothers. Poor,
unemployed mothers may enjoy flowers, but they also need child care,
job training, health care, a higher minimum wage and paid parental
"Imagine, if you can, an annual Million Mother March in the nation's
capital. Imagine a Mother's Day filled with voices demanding social
and economic justice and a sustainable future, rather than speeches
studded with syrupy platitudes," Rosen said.
The connection between motherhood, peace and social justice was
clear to many 19th century middle-class women. As mothers, they felt
was their responsibility to care for the casualties of society and
turn America into a more civilized nation.
We must restore Mother's Day for Peace as an anti-war holiday. Let's
celebrate women's political achievements so the Peace Crusade of
Julia Ward Howe, the struggles of Anna Reeves Jarvis and all the
other women (whose names are lost in the past) were not in vain.
The best way to honor mothers is not with sappy sentimentality. We
must raise hell and demonstrate against war and forbid our children
from joining the military.
Ultimately, it's up to the world's women (who give birth and thus,
know the value of life), to inspire the world's men to help them
create a world in which slain veterans exist only in the past.
Original Mother's Day Proclamation
By 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 tears!
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
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
Some Resources for Inspiration:
Planting of Trees for Peace- Wangari Maathai
The Peace Alliance- Campaign to Establish a U.S. Dept. Of Peace
IPPNW- International Physicians Against Nuclear War
a nonpartisan unarmed peacekeeping force composed of trained civilians from around the world.
Say No to War Toys