Have you ever felt like Mother’s Day (or Easter or Christmas or any other celebration – but I particularly get it with Mother’s Day) is kinda empty and shallow?
I mean, it’s awesome to have an opportuniy to appreciate mum… But a morning in bed with chocolate and flowers, or a facial, or a teapot… It can have this pink, fluffy, girly feeling to it. And sure, mother’s can be girly too… But mostly we are women. And you wonder… What do real women really want?
It’s mother’s day, and I’m lying in bed waiting for my husband and 2yo to bring me breakfast. I decided to get on the laptop to write this post because a) 2 year olds take quite a while to prepare breakfast, and I’m done sleeping… and b) I’ve been wanting to share the revelation in this email I read last night… It’s completely changed my view of mother’s day!
Jonathan Klate, from the Network of Spiritual Progressives (who are awesome, by the way), sent out an email which has been making it’s way around the world, and happily made it to my inbox last night. I couldn’t find a blog post about it on SpiritualProgressives.org , but Kent Siladi has posted the whole email on his blog Progressive Revelation, if you want to read it there.
Meanwhile, let me just share the guts of it here. Julia Ward Howe was an activist for Peace and women’s suffrage who put forward her vision for Mother’s Day in 1870. She died in 1910. In 1914, US President Woodrow Wilson officially declared Mother’s Day. But he kinda sanitised it. Here’s his statement:
Now, therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the said Joint Resolution, do hereby direct the government officials to display the United States flag on all government buildings and do invite the people of the United States to display the flag at their homes or other suitable places on the second Sunday in May as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.
Now, finally, let me introduce Julia Ward Howe’s original vision:
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.” From the voice of a 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 plough 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 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 someplace deemed most convenient And 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.
Honestly, her words bring tears to my eyes. It’s true, mothers and women have a special perspective on war (both against people, countries, and the Earth), and we have a special motivation to create a different world. I’m looking forward to watching how this revelation will change my own personal experience of Mother’s Day, today and in the future, as well as the experiences of others around the world. How does it change yours?