Disarm, Disarm!

May 12, 2007 by susan
Julia Ward Howe, as an old woman

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or tears!

by susan
Mother's Day was no big deal around our house. My mother proclaimed it a contrived Hallmark occasion to sell cards and so she wasn't buying it and we didn't have to either.

But, it seems, my mother had it wrong. In 1870, Julia Ward Howe, (yes, she of the Battle Hymn of the Republic) proclaimed the first Mother's day, and called on women every where to stand up against war and the senseless slaughter of our children.

"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 taught them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs." More below.

I was set straight on this first by Betty Tisel, chair of the board of MOMbo inc., a radio resource for moms, and encouraged to attend MOMbo's celebration of Mother's Day -- in the spirit of Julia Ward Howe, not Hallmark -- at the Lake Harriet band shell on Sunday, 2 p.m. rain or shine. According to Tisel, the gathering will feature a motherlode of talent, including Thomasina Petrus and Leslye Orr reading the Mother's Day Proclamation for Peace. There will be music, prose, poetry and Heart of the Beast puppets, emceed by MOMbo radio host, Nanci Olesen. More info on this cool way to spend Mum's day is at the link above.

Then Queen Noor of Jordan chimed in, with a plea for peace of her own, citing, of course, Julia Ward Howe.

So, I get the message, and give you below, the original Mother's Day Proclamation for Peace. You won't find it printed behind the embossed roses of a Hallmark card.

****

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or 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 taught them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another 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 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 & 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 Caesars 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.

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Comments

Poet (not verified) | May 12, 2007 - 2:46am

Susan--

Acutally your mom was right in a way--she may not have known of Ms. Howe's original intent, but she was definately tunned in to the results of early 20th. century propagandists like Edward Bernaise (who were also responsible for turning Labor Day into a baseball-double header and a shopping sales opportunity instead of the chance for organized Labor to show its unity and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. into a "dreamer" instead of a "doer" which is what got him martyred).

Here for your edification is just a bit about Bernaise from the "History Detectives" website:

"But sometimes, a book's influence is distinctly non-benevolent. In the first half of the 20th century, Edward Bernaise became the most sought-after spinmeister of his generation. But when his book, Crystallizing Public Opinion, fell into Nazi hands, Bernaise's groundbreaking ideas became the inspiration for one of the world's most sinister campaigns: Joseph Goebbels' push to sell the Holocaust."

What would be cool is if moms everywhere followed the example of those going to DC this Suinday to protest the Bushwar:* Take back your day and restore it to what it was meant to be by its founder!

* http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/05/11/1122/

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MLS (not verified) | May 12, 2007 - 1:15pm

I certainly do not approve the war in Iraq but promoting peace vs protesting war is my preference of words. As a
mother, I found I always got better results with that approach.
Happy Mother's day (from the heart and not the card) to all
mothers.

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susan | May 12, 2007 - 6:52pm

"Actually your mom was right in a way .. ."

In honor of my mother on Mother's Day, let me say that actually, she was always right -- in a way. What a shock. The noble impulse, in this case a proclamation of peace, gets twisted, co-opted, and turned to a money-maker one more time. If there's a buck to be made . . .

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paul Miller (not verified) | May 13, 2007 - 8:41am

good article in the STRib today

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susan | May 13, 2007 - 12:33pm

Thankee Paul. I might stick it up on the Clotheline to expand its readership. (thass a joke, but the way things are going for the Strib . . . )

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paul Miller (not verified) | May 13, 2007 - 8:33pm

yup, the Strib is in big trouble. Kate Perry, the reader's rep (she's one of us!) worries about the internet / blogers providing the news when papers completely fail. Actually, the papers have failed and the internet has been the saving grace for providing real news. If the mainstream press weren't chained to power and could tell the real story instead of reporting news weeks to months after the fact maybe they wouldn't all be at risk. The Strib's assesment that they need to provide more focused local news is more of their denial. I thought about sending Kate an email to tell her what I thought of her analysis but why bother?

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susan | May 13, 2007 - 9:47pm

I agree about the Strib's problems, and that Kate Parry missed some of them, (although it's true, classified ad revenue is almost non-existent, and breaking news is no longer theirs) but I read something earlier this week, (sorry, the Mother's Day Zin has gone to my head and I've no idea where) about how without the MSM the blogosphere would have no leaping off point. There's truth in that. There aren't many blogs making the kind of dough that can support a reporter in the field. But, when a MSM report comes in, the rest of us can jump on it, research it, and call it out. I love that part. This may be the new dynamic of news -- point, counter-point.

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