(And all good men to stand up with them!)
I am excited to begin my HuffPost blogging in the wake of Mother's Day, and a few days after hosting H. H. the Dalai Lama in New York. His Holiness, in radiant health and spirits, powerfully manifested his unwavering message of "world peace through inner peace." To all of us enrapt as ever, he taught us the quintessence of compassion. The next day he attended a packed benefit luncheon for Tibet House, US at the famous "power lunch" restaurant, The Four Seasons. (Alex von Bidder welcomed the guests to what he called "the ultimate power lunch," which I annotated by reminding everyone that the ultimate "power" is that of compassion.) His Holiness spoke from the heart and eloquently appealed to the hearts of all present to save the extremely precious and highly endangered Buddhist culture of beloved Tibet. We all left fully aglow, and inspired to do something for Tibet and for the world.
In these times, the doubt often arises as to whether the world is going to make it - at least the stressed out human beings. While there are so many wise and kind and beautiful people everywhere, it seems as if most of the leaders in actual power are charging ahead in flamboyantly self-destructive paths. Exceptional, of course, is the wonderful Barack Obama and perhaps the glorious Angela Merkel. And interestingly, both seem to like the Dalai Lama! Hmmmm. There must be some others at the top of the various heaps of humanity we call nations, but definitely not enough to really turn the Spaceship Earth onto the radically new course it needs to pass the unthinkable crisis we are facing.
Spaceship Earth is overheating, its seas are rising. It is overpopulated; its resources are dwindling. Its earth and water and air is poisoned. Its wild animals are perishing at an alarming rate, and its domesticated animals are being tormented and turned into toxic foodstuffs. And the humans, who are causing all this, are mainly in denial about their own responsibility, blaming various enemies instead, and so the majority of their machinery, money, and ingenuity is wasted in warfare and preparation for more, and for local, domestic, and internal violence.
So naturally we fear the end is nigh. People ask me all the time, "Can we make it? Do you think it's possible?" I feel the same way emotionally, but intellectually I am certain we will make it and the human drama on this planet will continue for many millennia, getting better and better.
Why? Because of Mother's Day, because the real Day of the Mothers is coming. Listen to Julia Ward Howe, a Mother who was a staunch activist against slavery and a pioneer of feminism. She came up with the vision of the international Mother's Day, and wrote the original Mother's Day Proclamation in 1870. Just listen!
"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 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."
(Thanks to Jonathan Klate for sending this text of the proclamation.)
Now where is this great "general congress of women?" It is to be "without limit of nationality," that is to say: global. Such a congress of women must arise and demand an end to war, an end to men's stubborn "staying the course" in inane campaigns of violence. Julia Ward Howe already outlined their mission, 139 years ago. How bad does it have to get for them to stand up and accomplish it?
Twelve years ago, the Dalai Lama was at a Tibet House US "Peacemaking" conference in San Francisco, and was encouraging the 1500 or so "youth at risk" present that we needed them to turn the world around, their energy was crucial. The youth were inspired and the thousands in the audience felt a wave of hope ripple through. At that moment, the notable author and psychotherapist, Jean Shinoda Bolen piped up from the panel on stage, "Your Holiness, there is another crucial source of energy we may also find of great assistance." "What might that be?" was the response. The smiling answer, "Menopausal zest!" brought the house thunderously down, and His Holiness was enormously impressed. Well, then, Mothers of the World, it is high time!
When the students and workers at Tiananmen Square held off the communist party bosses for months in 1989, it was because the troops sent in refused to run over the grandmothers out in the square protecting their grandchildren. When Yeltsin had to withdraw in the first Chechen war, it was because the grandmothers en masse went down to the front and took their grandsons out of the line. The grandmother house of the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy held veto power over the decisions of the chiefs of the tribes. When the Mother's really recognize that they better leave what's "left of home," their power is undeniable. It is daunting. It is dangerous. But there must come a point where it is more dangerous not to arise and demand peace, demanding it peacefully. May the day soon be upon us! May all men stand together with the Mothers! Now is the time for all women to come to the aid of the planet!
Robert Thurman is the author of Inner Revolution, Infinite Life, Jewel Tree of Tibet, and Why the Dalai Lama Matters.