My Two Favorite Things About Mother's Day

1. It’s connection to Unitarian Universalism

2. It’s connection to a call for peace

Unitarian Universalist Julia Ward Howe,  was a poet, writer,  abolitionist and suffragist from Boston and author of the words to the  Battle Hymn of the Republic (Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord…) , MA.  In 1870 during the Franco-Prussian war she wrote:

“the cruel and unnecessary character of the contest. . . . a return to barbarism, the issue having been one which might easily have been settled without bloodshed.”

And she began a campaign for women everywhere to rise against war, kicked off by her “Mother’s Day Proclamation” of 1870:

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

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 been able to teach
them of charity, mercy and patience.

We 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 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 does not wipe our 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 then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the
means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each
bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
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.

Her idea was for a Mother’s Day peace observance in June every year.

Our present Mother’s Day is related more the efforts of Anna Jarvis to honor a promise to her mother to establish a day to honor mothers everywhere.  In 1914 President Wilson signed a joint resolution of Congress establishing a Mother’s Day to recognize the mother’s role in the family.  This is not slight, simple nor bad thing, but it’s not the Mother’s Day Julia Ward How envisioned for peace, either.  Neither Howe, nor Jarvis, I think would be please with the commercialization of Mother’s Day, which has become, like so many other holidays, another opportunity to market greeting cards, flowers and gift items, instead of making and marking human connection, and thinking about how to realize peaceful relations at home and in the world.

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