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The Mother’s Day Proclamation of Julia Ward Howe

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Mother’s Day began as a dream of Julia Ward Howe.  No fru-fru sentimental holiday was on Howe’s mind, but a challenge to the world to stop war and listen to the hearts of mothers.  Jonathan Klate shares this summary and Howe’s proclamation itself, courtesy of the Network of Spiritual Progressives.


Reaffirming Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Vision

Julia Ward Howe
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Julia Ward Howe offered her Mother’s Day Proclamation to the world in 1870Her dream was the establishment of an international Mothers’ Day Festival dedicated to the cause of nonviolent resolution of conflict and international solidarity among all women.

Her pacifist consciousness had been provoked by the bloodshed of the Franco-Prussian War.  Her activism was cultivated in the struggles for abolition of slavery and the quest for women’s suffrage.  She had the proclamation translated into French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Swedish, working for the establishment of Mother’s Day in concert with women internationally celebrating peace and women’s empowerment.

Howe died in 1910, four years before President Woodrow Wilson officially declared the day in 1914 in response to the burgeoning success of the movement she inspired.  But Wilson avoided any mention of the thrust of Howe’s cause in his declaration, instead emphasizing only the nurturing “home and hearth” dimension of motherhood.  He also spurned the internationalist concern that was central to Howe’s consciousness, distorting this into American nationalism.

Howe’s central concerns, the universality of motherhood and its natural expression in anti-war sentiment, was excised from the official meaning of the day.

President Wilson proclaimed:  “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.”

Compare this to Howe’s far more high minded vision, still so desperately needed in this suffering divided world. Here is the text of her 1870 Mother’s Day Proclamation, so prescient in its understanding, so courageous in its call, so plaintiff in its currency nearly a century and a half later.

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.

Jonathan Klate who resides in Amherst, Massachusetts where he writes frequently about spirituality, compassionate politics, and the relationship between these two. Please feel welcome to forward.


web: www.spiritualprogressives.org
email: info@spiritualprogressives.org
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Amnesty USA volunteers help stop anti-Palestinian amendment

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Bad news to good news!

Last Friday, Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ) proposed an amendment to the budget bill prohibiting use of any of its funds for assistance to refugees who resettle in the USA—if they happen to be from Gaza.  When I heard of it, I thought, “What on earth?  Why would he …?” And then, “Ohhh, no.”

Yesterday, it became clear that the amendment was heading for a vote.  Amnesty USA emailed its network, of which I am proud to be a part.  Here’s what we learned:

clipped from blog.amnestyusa.org

A Palestinian boy pours water into a dish for a woman as she sits on the rubble of her home, March 6, 2009. (c) MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images

A Palestinian boy pours water into a dish for a woman as she sits on the rubble of her home in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip , March 6, 2009. (c) MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images

Palestinians: Keep out?

Middle East, Refugees, United States | Posted by: Christoph Koettl, March 9, 2009 at 2:28 PM

Should Palestinians from Gaza be treated differently under US refugee law? According to Senator Jon Kyl (R – AZ), the answer is yes.

Last Friday, Senator Kyl introduced an amendment to the Omnibus Appropriations bill, which adds the following line:

“None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be made available to resettle Palestinians from Gaza into the United States.” [...]

Contrary to a policy of 30 years, which extends protection to refugees on the basis of need, this amendment seeks to discriminate against an entire group based on nationality alone

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Now the good stuff. Today, I (along with many others) received this email message:

Hi,

We wanted to send you a quick update on last night’s Gaza refugee vote. Thanks to your quick mobilization in which over 16,000 of you faxed letters in a span of just two hours, Senator Kyl withdrew his discriminatory amendment.

A bipartisan group of several Senators including Leahy (VT), Kerry (MA) and Gregg (NH) stood on the floor of the Senate and spoke out against the amendment. Your faxes together with our champions on this issue applied enough political pressure for Senator Kyl to just withdraw the amendment completely.

Again, this was one of those moments when together we really made the difference. Thanks again.

– Sarnata, Steve, Zahir, Edie and the rest of the team here at AIUSA

Ya – hoo!

Yes! We can make a difference!

Check out AmnestyUSA if you’d like to add your voice.  Let’s make a nation that treats its neighbors the way we’d want them to treat us, were we in their shoes.


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Written by Monte

March 10, 2009 at 10:18 pm

“To live now as we think humans should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us…”

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UPDATE: I found some good encouragement in the comments of friends at Clipmarks today, and was reminded of this post from nearly two years ago. Here’s a re-post—’cause we all need hope.


Sometimes I think of the enormity of darkness which our world contains, and find the tragedies involved simply too crushing.

How small I am! How seemingly powerless! I find myself in need of hope.
I found some, today, in the conclusion to Howard Zinn’s 1994 book You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times. If you’re invested in bringing good to your world, perhaps you’ll find these words encouraging.

. . . In 1992, teachers all over the country, by the thousands, were beginning to teach the Columbus story in new ways, to recognize that to Native Americans, Columbus and his men were not heroes, but marauders. The point being not just to revise our view of past events, but to be provoked to think about today.

What was most remarkable was that Indian teachers, Indian community activists, were in the forefront of this campaign. How far we have come from that long period of Indian invisibility, when they were presumed to be dead or safely put away on reservations! They have returned, five hundred years after their near annihilation by invading Europeans, to demand that America rethink its beginnings, rethink its values.

It is this change in consciousness that encourages me. Granted, racial hatred and sex discrimination are still with us, war and violence still poison our culture, we have a large underclass of poor, desperate people, and there is a hard core of the population content with the way things are, afraid of change.

But if we see only that, we have lost historical perspective, and then it is as if we were born yesterday and we know only the depressing stories in this morning’s newspapers, this evening’s television reports. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

July 7, 2008 at 4:06 pm

Koreans make peace when no one else will

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Korean citizens, long in the shadow of a war made by others, decide that if peace won’t come to them, they will become peace. Click here to read the whole piece. As with most of Joan Chittister’s writing, it is inspiring.

clipped from ncrcafe.org
peacebellKorea is involved in the longest unfinished war in modern history. Caught between the interests of the Four Great Powers — China, Japan, Russia and the United States — the Korean War, an appendage to World War II — a by-product of World War II — broke out in June 1950 to stop the spread of Communism in the region and, at the same time, to secure a foothold for the West in Asia. “We never went to war ourselves,” the Koreans say. “We have only fought surrogate wars.”
one day in 2005 … the local mayor … and the local philosopher … determined that if peace would not come to Hwacheon, Hwacheon would become it themselves. (www.peacebell.co.kr) “Peace begins in Hwacheon,” they decided, “in Hwacheon, the Peace Capital of the World.”
To prove it, they would create a World Peace Bell out of spent cartridges from around the world. They would begin to turn the DMZ, a monument to death, into a Wildlife Preserve. And they would become a center for the study of the relationship between ecology and peace, with the otter, an endangered species in their midst, as the symbol of it. “After all,” they tell you, “bells can be heard across borders and otters swim freely on both sides of the DMZ because they cannot be stopped by wire and dams.”

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Hmm. Where does peace begin?


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Written by Monte

November 8, 2007 at 6:21 pm

Posted in Hope, Social change

“And whoever the angels are who helped with this …”

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Some friends with generous hearts stepped in to help a boy. Here’s the story, and then a thought:

From: Heather Lujano/To: Kelly Swift/Subject: student wellness

Hi Kelly,

Thanks to the WCSD [Washington Community School District] Student Wellness fund, who assisted a 10 year old … student in avoiding having a deformed finger!

Single parent (working) family: Student was injured at school; student has no insurance and is not eligible for Title XIX (because his immigration case has not yet been approved by US gov’t. I believe he has been waiting since he was 4 or 5 years old for petition to be approved). [...] Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

May 28, 2007 at 12:15 pm

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