Mothers Day is Planetarian – With Radical Roots

An Evolution of Consciousness
Guest blog by Rachel Gertrude Johnson – EON Board Member

Juliet Ward Howe – From ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’ to Mothers’ Manifesto for Peace

Not Just a ‘Hallmark Holiday’
Many of you already know this, but I always like to take the opportunity on Mother’s Day to remind myself and my friends about the progressive roots of Mother’s Day- that it started as an occasion to honor women working for a better world, and to encourage women to join our voices together to work for issues about health & survival & peace, about not sending our sons off to fight the sons of other mothers in other places. It was definitely not a greeting card moment, or a day for mom to lie in bed to be fed, but a day to get out there and speak our minds about the issues of our times.

In 1858 in the heat of pre-Civil War patriotism, Julia Ward Howe wrote the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” glorifying the mythical glory and heroism of warfighting.

But, she evolved over time, for which we can be grateful!

Twelve years later, Howe had become so distraught by the death and carnage of the Civil War that she called on Mother’s to come together and protest what she saw as the futility of their “Sons killing the Sons of other Mothers.”

“Arise, then, women of this day!”
In 1870, she wrote “A Mother’s Day Proclamation”, which helped to conceptualize the first North American Mother’s Day. The movement grew over time, and in 1914 Mother’s Day was finally made a day of national observance in the US. Most people today don’t realize that Mother’s Day has radical roots, that it is really about peace and the honoring of women’s values. And even if you are not a biological mother, this day is for you, too.

For one, we all have mothers, whether or not they are still alive, and we all have the sacred charge of protecting the earth, the mother of all of us. This is a day to let the feminine, nurturing side of us speak out, and I’m talking about men, too! It was a joy this morning to read this to my son Orie, who really seemed to take it in, and who gave me a supportive hug as I asked to bow out of the pancake breakfast and be allowed to stay home to finish sending this out.

So here is the amazing “Mother’s Day proclamation”, which called women to pacifism and political resistance:

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise all women who have hearts,
Whether your 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 of 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 out 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 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 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

Please forward this to whoever you can think of who would appreciate it, or who might be open to learning about the roots of Mother’s Day.
And here’s hoping that we can all find some new meaning in this day.

Love to all,
Rachel

ps…and here’s a photo from yesterday of Mary Beth Brangan and me, celebrating Mother’s Day in advance; I couldn’t be more fortunate than to have Mary Beth as a soul-sister and co-worker in speaking out about the issues we care deeply about! (Photo by our wonderful feminine-supporting Jim Heddle.)

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