By Eileen Fleming
The genesis of Mother’s Day in the U.S.A. began with Anna Jarvis, an Appalachian homemaker who organized for a day to raise awareness of poor health conditions in her community.
Fifteen years later, Julia Ward Howe, a Boston poet, pacifist, suffragist, and author of the lyrics to the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” organized for a day to encourage mothers to rally for peace.
As mothers bear the loss of human life more acutely than anyone else, Julia Ward Howe wrote the first Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870, from which I excerpt:
Arise then…women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
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. 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.
Today Caesar is best understood as Big Brother: a Media enabled Government Military SECURITY Complex;
Which would collapse if enough people rose up and demanded our ‘leaders’ change course from state sponsored violence to talking with the ‘enemy’ and upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
We the people of America who pay taxes are culpable for most all of the world’s manufacturing, use and exporting of weapons of all degrees of destruction that terrorize every innocent caught in the crossfire.
In 1999, the UN dedicated the first decade of the 21st century to “Create a Culture of Nonviolence for All Children of The World”.
I learned that fact in December 2005 when I attended the first and still only Holy Land Trust’s Celebrating Nonviolent Resistance Conference in the Little Town of Bethlehem: Occupied Territory.
I also learned that America abstained from voting on that UN initiative and is on the record stating:
“We cannot support this initiative as it will make it harder for us to wage war.”
The hearts and minds that require the most transformation are the ones that hold the most political power and power never gives any away—without a battle.
Also during that 2005 conference in Bethlehem, Professor Jeff Halper, American Israeli and Co-founder of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, spoke about how we need to look at life as if it were a play and claim a part because when enough ‘actors’ meaning activists pursue justice and remain nonviolent, Caesar can be led to acquiesce some power in order to remain in power.
Ateek explained how Jesus’s teachings and life reflected and modeled the revolutionary concept of nonviolent action in response to brutal inhumane violence.
However, thousands of years of not reflecting upon the fact that evil can be opposed without being mirrored and that the cycle of a ‘tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye’, never has, never will, never can bring peace or security.
Jesus taught that one must forgive and love ones enemies and one must pray for those who persecute and hate them.
Before the reign of Emperor Constantine, all the early Church Fathers taught that Christians should not serve in the army but instead willingly suffer rather than inflict harm on any other human being.
St. Paul taught that the only way to resist evil is with good. Clement, Tertillian, Polycarp and every other early Church Father taught that violence contradicts Christianity.
In 313 Constantine sought to unite his empire by legitimizing Christianity although he waited until his deathbed to be baptized and it has been said that was when the soul left the church.
Within 100 years after Constantine, the Empire required that all soldiers in the army must be baptized as Christians and the decline of Christianity began.
Augustine was the first Church Father to speak about the concept of a Just War and the Church relaxed the standards Jesus modeled to justify war in support of political power.
A true Christian will always be nonviolent as underscored by Rev. Ateek who said:
“The God of war, violence, oppression and terror must be rejected. Authentic Christianity is nonviolent and is all about peace, justice and liberation.”
The problem is not with Christianity, but that too few, who claim to be Christian, have actually done what Christ taught.
Christians claim that God is Love and:
Love is not the starving of whole populations. Love is not the bombardment of open cities. Love is not killing. Our manifesto is the Sermon on the Mount, which means that we will try to be peacemakers. -Dorothy Day
Also during the 2005 Celebrating Nonviolent Resistance Conference, Dr. Mohamed Abu-Nimer from the Salam Institute of Peace and Justice stated:
All the Abrahamic traditions are based in nonviolence, it is our lenses that determine whether we see it. Like Christianity the concept of a Just War took root and developed after lots of discussions dealing with how to deal with believers and nonbelievers.
The first twelve years Mohamed spent in Mecca he practiced nonviolent resistance. He was persecuted but always prayed:
‘God forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.’
Mohamed taught against the killing of innocents, the desecration of the environment and for the humane treatment and respect towards one’s enemies.
Suicide bombings are not justified and those who try to justify it negate the early principals and teachings regarding nonviolence, the pursuit of justice, doing good, universality and human dignity, equality, that all life is sacred, to be forgiving and be a peace maker.
As with Christianity the ideals have yet to transform the hearts and minds of many who claim to be adherents of the faith.
In explaining this gap Dr. Abu-Nimer continued:
We are quick to blame the external factors such as colonialism, war, humiliation, Zionism and economic dependency.
But what we lack is looking internally for we Muslims love authority, bureaucracy, loyalty and our core government system is based on nepotism not ability.
There is corruption, co-optation of religious leaders, the patriarchal structure and hierarchy, the authoritarian control system, and the tribal mentality.
We are not raised in our culture to question authority and if you engage in nonviolence you must resist authority.
Our first step is to challenge our own presumptions…
We have 5,000 sayings attributed to Mohamed and 700 authentically traced.
The politicalization of his teachings began the corruption of his teachings.
Every Muslim child is exposed to positive values as well as interpretations that are narrow and exclusive.
An example is: ‘We are the best nation that God sent to people.’
If we truly follow the ideals of Islam, we are, but reality is that the ideals have been corrupted by wrong actions.
Many interpret the saying: ‘Support your brother if he is just, right or wrong’ to mean you must be loyal regardless of his actions and don’t ask questions.
The true way to support one’s brother [or tribe] is to point out the error of his [their] ways; to explain to him why he is wrong, to correct but not fight.
St. Paul expressed the same sentiment when he warned: “Do not judge the nonbeliever, but provoke one another to good works.”
Dr. Abu-Nimer concluded:
“Islam was revolutionary at its time but it went backwards. There is no lack of values; the lack is in interpretation…Islam must reclaim what Mohamed put down. It is a myth to believe that the conflict between Israel Palestine can be fixed by secular methods.”
Gandhi spoke about how personal nonviolence is not much use to society until one weds society to political action.
Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends. I believe that as soon as people want peace in the world they can have it. The only trouble is they are not aware they can get it.-John Lennon
All this mother is saying is let’s give peace a chance by seizing our personal opportunities to NOT respond to violence with violence—such as with brutal words when anger rises no matter how justified it is in our mind — which is the only mind we have any chance of controlling.
When hearts are disarmed then wed to political will and nonviolent action in the spirit of and in the Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human RIGHTS we truly could begin the world again!
People have RIGHTS.
Governments have Obligations.
Silence in the face of injustice is always complicit.
Violence propagates only its own.
Peace can come from within.
Conscience calls to speak out.
In honor of all mothers and all the children who have been lost due to USA state sponsored violence please visit the National Priorities Project’s Cost of War and Cost of National Security page and share the dollar costs of War in Iraq, Afghanistan and for the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, Nuclear Weapons, and Foreign Military Assistance.
And call your mom on Mother’s Day!
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