In 1872 Julia Ward Howe, an American women’s rights activist, published the Mother’s Day Proclamation. Horrified by the carnage of war, Ward Howe worked tirelessly for years to establish a “Mother’s Day for Peace” Sunday honouring peace, motherhood and womanhood. These Sundays were a precursor to the modern Mother’s Day that we are celebrating today. In these times of increasing global climate destabilization from human-caused climate change, the idea of reclaiming Mother’s Day for Peace should be revisited. Mothers everywhere need to say loudly and clearly that we will not put our children and grandchildren’s future at risk because our leaders tell us that the economy is more important that their future. The Mother’s Day Proclamation that follows was written by Julia Ward Howe, who also wrote The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Read it with the spectre of the wars over food, water, and land that lie ahead of us from a destabilized climate looking over your shoulder, and consider it a call to action whatever role you play in the human family.
Mother’s Day Proclamation
Arise then…women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
“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 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 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.