Sunday, May 9, 2010

We Will Not Have Questions Answered by Irrelevant Agencies.

I'm never quite sure what to do on Mother's Day. In my family, when I was growing up, we always called it a Hallmark Holiday, made fun of it. But as I get older, I find it hard to resist feeling sentimental when my friends around me are calling their mothers. I say, "I call my mother all year long, and we email frequently, why is it so important to call today?" Then again, why is it so important to not?

I've also discovered that at some point my brother and his long-time girlfriend and my sister and her husband started sending Mother's Day cards and gifts every year. Maybe it was just me who was so anti-Mother's Day? I've gotten to the point now where I don't believe any of the stories I've been telling myself all my life.

The last couple years I've sent short emails to say hi. Not necessarily "Happy Mother's Day!", but at least "hi."

It was my mother's home-grown, instinctive neighborhood activism in the late 60s and early 70s that planted the seeds of my lifelong rebellion. So, this year I recognize the roots of Mother's Day in feminism and pacifism, before it was swallowed whole by the floral industry, the restaurant industry, the greeting card industry.

It didn't start out being about spa treatments and breakfast in bed. It started with Julia Ward Howe's disgust with the Civil War. Happy Mother's Day!


Mother's Day Proclamation, 1870
Julia Ward Howe

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 bosom 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 out 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.

3 comments:

xoxoxoe said...

saying happy mother's day, even if it brings just a momentary smile to her face, is a good thing. An e-card works, too. Hallmark, shmallmark, it's never been about that, it's about looking at her, acknowledging her for a moment, not just taking her for granted.

I knew the real value of Mother's Day when I rememebered, late, after being out with friends, at 12:01 am, and called my mom COLLECT from a phone booth on Broadway (when they still had phonebooths) to wish her a happy mother's day and she wasn't pissed.

Happy mother's day!

Peggy said...

"I've gotten to the point now where I don't believe any of the stories I've been telling myself all my life"

This is my favorite quote on the net this week, may I borrow it pleeeaase! Thanks in advance, I love reading your blog Steven!

Steven said...

Of course, Peggy. Thank you!