The horrendous slaughter of men and boys in the American Civil War (1860-65) produced significant repulsion especially among women, already disenfranchised and victims of patriarchy.
The 20th century of course saw a quantum leap in bloodthirsty carnage and the haunting spectre of underdevelloped men cavalierly sending other people’s children to their deaths.
The brilliant German philosopher Immanuel Kant nailed it:”Often war is waged only in order to show valor; thus an inner dignity is ascribed to war itself, and even some philosophers have praised it as an ennoblement of humanity, forgetting the pronouncement of the Greek who said, “War is an evil in as much as it produces more wicked men than it takes away.”
Here is the original Mothers’ Day Proclamation of Julia Ward Howe penned in Boston in 1870. Plus ca change, plus la meme chose. We still see the cowardly activity of the Dick Cheney’s of this world, a man who had 5 deferments in the Vietnam years yet blythly sent 100s of minority and working class kids to their deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.
So Mothers’ Day today has become the latest victim of capitalist amnesia: turn a radical remembrance into flowers and chocolates!
Remember Julia Ward Howe!
Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!
“We will not have great questions decided 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 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 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 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.