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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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Why the Supreme Court’s unreasonable searches ruling matters to me

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This is good news:

After thirty years of near carte blanche to police regarding auto searches, this decision supports an often-abused right to privacy.  And it’s a “least-first” issue.

clipped from criminaljustice.change.org
Tuesday was a critical day for individual privacy rights at the U.S. Supreme Court.

[T]he court issued a major decision protecting citizens against unreasonable searches in traffic stops.

An unusual alliance of justices (Stevens, Scalia, Souter, Thomas and Ginsberg) came together in a 5-4 decision in Arizona v. Gant, ruling that officers can search a car during an arrest only if the suspect is close enough to the car to reach for a weapon or if there’s reason to believe the car contains evidence very pertinent to the arrest.

The decision strengthens fourth amendment protections for criminal suspects and limits the wide latitude officers have had for nearly three decades since the court’s decision in New York v. Belton.

New York Times: Supreme Court Cuts Back Officers’ Searches of Vehicles

WSJ Law Blog: Police Power to Search Cars Up in Smoke

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I have seen abuse by police.  I’m a white, middle-class, middle-aged guy, so I’ve not seen it a lot.  But on a couple of occasions, the curtain has lifted just enough to allow a glimpse onto a stage many Americans experience as normal life.

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Shinichi’s Tricycle

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We like to think wars are fought by nations. But what a tidy fiction that is! Nations lose no arms or legs or blood or sanity.
Kurt Vonnegut, I believe, said that we allow war because of “a failure of the imagination.” We simply don’t consider what we do when we yield to those pleas of our governments.

The story below might sub for some of that imagination. I’ve clipped just a bit, but I encourage you to read the rest from Doug at the link.  It is excellent.

And I hope you and I can be people who cling fiercely to reality when passions run high and facts seem clear and resistance looks like treason.  For in the end, a share of war’s price will be paid by little Shinichis who find themselves in the way of things others thought more important.

clipped from unitedcats.wordpress.com

Shinichi’s Tricycle

Shinichi Tetsutani was a three year old boy who loved to ride his new red tricycle. 63 years ago this day he was riding his trike in his front yard. He was playing with his friend Kimiko. It was 8:15 in the morning. A quarter mile away there was a bright flash in the sky. Shin was badly burned and buried in the debris of his house. He was still alive when his parents dug him out, his hands still gripping the handlebars of his trike. They were unable to get to his two sisters in time as the wreckage of their home burned. Shin died that night. The next day his parents buried their children in their front yard, they thought they were too young to be buried in a lonely grave far from home. Shin’s friend Kimiko had also been killed in the blast, so they were buried together, holding hands. Shin’s beloved trike was buried with him.
Killing children is a crime, not an act of war

God rest their little souls. God grant us the wisdom to never do this again. God help us all through the dark days ahead.
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Hat tip to Homeyra. Thanks, friend – you help me remember!


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Written by Monte

August 14, 2008 at 2:34 pm

Zinn: 7 Conclusions about war

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Baghdad bombingI found historian Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States so important that now I read everything of his I come across. Always controversial, here are some excerpts from this WWII bombardier’s introduction to “Bomb After Bomb: a Violent Cartography,” by Elin O’Hara Slavick, as reprinted in Counterpunch.

On bombing:

I am stunned by the thought that we, the “civilized” nations, have bombed cities and countrysides and islands for a hundred years. Yet, here in the United States, which is responsible for most of that, the public, as was true of me, does not understand–I mean really understand–what bombs do to people. That failure of imagination, I believe, is critical to explaining why we still have wars, why we accept bombing as a common accompaniment to our foreign policies, without horror or disgust. …

On patriotism, a useful distinction between government and country:

Patriotism is defined as obedience to government, obscuring the difference between the government and the people. Thus, soldiers are led to believe that “we are fighting for our country” when in fact they are fighting for the governmentRead the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

December 17, 2007 at 6:18 pm

Posted in patriotism, Politics

CIA to reveal (some) illegal actions

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Truth sets us free. This will be helpful.
Messy, ugly, and embarrassing, but helpful.
May we (the USA) see ourselves and be seen by others for who we are and what we have done, not for history the way we wish it were.

clipped from www.democracynow.org
the CIA is preparing to declassify hundreds of documents that detail some if its most infamous and illegal operations. The records are believed to cover the period from the 1950s to the 1970s. They include details on domestic spying, infiltrating leftist groups, drug tests on US citizens and assassination plots against foreign leaders. In advance of the release, the National Security Archive has published a new set of documents revealing the Ford administration was concerned about the documents’ eventual disclosure. In a memo to Ford, then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said a 1974 article by the investigative journalist Seymour Hersh on the CIA’s infiltration of anti-war groups was “just the tip of the iceberg.” Kissinger also warned that “blood will flow” if several other operations were exposed

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PS: I am a fairly intuitive (i.e., unaware) grammarian, so had to give some thought to “was” or “were,” above.  Found a useful tip about it at Lousy Writer (just in case anyone were interested).


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Written by Monte

June 23, 2007 at 11:34 am

Posted in Politics, Terrorism