Some of you (you know who you are) will be doing some last-minute combing through the greeting card section at the local pharmacy tomorrow morning to find just the right card and envelope to express your love and affection for Mom. While you're doing that, I have a challenge for you.In that huge stack of ready-made messages of undying love and affection, find the card that says this:
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
"Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience."
You won't find it.
The quotes above are from Julia Ward Howe's Mother's Day Proclamation, written in 1870. Howe, as you may recall, wrote The Battle Hymn of the Republic in 1862. During the intervening years, the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War deeply impressed on her the horror of war.
According to President Obama's 2010 Mother's Day Proclamation, Howe "led early efforts to establish a day honoring the influence of mothers on our lives and communities." Close, Mr. President. More specifically, as shown in the quotes above, she wanted to establish a day on which mothers across the world unequivocally denounced war-making. One presumes that would include the war fought in Afghanistan, which was just recently named both the worst country in which to become a mother and the worst place to be born.
War deeply affects mothers and children, as shown in our new video above. The high economic cost of war means local communities, whose social safety nets are so important to keeping families safe and healthy, suffer huge budget cuts while hundreds of billions of dollars are fed into the maw of the war machine. We keep hearing about the need to fight the Afghanistan war for our security, but as one of the mothers in our new video points out, what does "security" mean when you can't feed your family and when the economic crisis is ushering you out of your home?
I think it's time we remember the original sentiment of Mother's Day. Tear up the Hallmark cards. If you want to honor your mother today, remember what she taught you of "charity, mercy and patience." Commit to joining the effort to ending the war in Afghanistan. There are tens of thousands of others at Rethink Afghanistan's Facebook page working to do so. Please join us.
A final note: The president's proclamation for this year curiously notes Howe's authorship of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, yet not once mentions the word "peace."
Maybe we could have it made into a Hallmark card.