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Environmental Challenges
and the Power of Women

By Redwood Mary


Peace, War, The Environment and Mothers

We have just Celebrated, Mother's Day and Earth Day and I wanted to share this amazing reminder about the origins of Mother's Day that was posted to an e-list that I subscribe to. What do Mother's Day and Earth Day, Peace on Earth and War all have in common?

The connection between motherhood, peace and social justice was clear to many 19th century middle-class women as Elaine Charkowski points out in her posting "Mother's Day established by Civil War mothers as anti-war protest".

Our permanent war economies and components of societies around the world that collaborate in the creating of military satellites, heat seeking laser weaponry technology, robotic drones planes as well as on the ground jihads and suicide bombers are not the path of peace by those societies claiming to be a peaceful people.

In their book, "War in Heaven", a Nobel Prize-nominated peace activist Helen Caldicott and a former U.S. foreign service officer Craig Eisendrath (who helped write the Outer Space Treaty of 1967) look at the history of military uses of space and the current plans for "militarizing the heavens," including kinetic, laser, nuclear bombardment, and anti-satellite weapons. Contrary to the claims of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that the United States faces a "space Pearl Harbor," Caldicott and Eisendrath show that the United States itself is today the principal obstruction to passage of an international treaty banning weapons from outer space. I argue that all men and women of all nations from workers to religious to the purveyors and suppliers to the military economy around the world are committing the most egregious and sinful acts toward humanity and mother earth.

The environmental damage from all wars—past and present has taken a severe toll on our human psyche, and have fueled generations of gruesome hatreds in the name of nations, in the name of Gods, in the name of power, or to control resources and people's minds.

Now there is much more at stake. The resources, energy, human power and pollution and destruction that is involved in continuing the machinery of war is of the most critical challenge that is now before us. The training of our youth in preparation for the participation and desensitization to violence and feeding them video games in the market place and with the multitude of black market guns infiltrating our communities is the fault of each society that turns a blind eye to the corporate and religious powers that sell us the need for guns and war.

Do read this and I hope you are moved to a heart based action as a response. Do support your local environmental and peace groups or start one!


Mother's Day established by Civil War mothers as anti-war protest
By Elaine Charkowski

Most people associate Mother's Day with flowers and sentimental Mothers Day cards. However, Mothers Day was created as an anti-war protest by women whose sons were killed by their fellow Americans in the Civil War.

Writer and social-justice activist Julia Ward Howe (1819-1899) was born in New York City. She was the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her works include The Life of Margaret Fuller (1883), From Sunset Ridge: Poems Old and New (1898), and Reminiscences 1819-1899 (1899).

She was a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church. In 1870, she wrote the Mothers Day Proclamation to inspire the world's women to protect their sons by ending war.

Howe worked for social justice with her husband Samuel Gridley Howe who wrote for the Boston Commonwealth, an anti-slavery newspaper. She visited a Union army camp and wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Howe also fought for women's rights and founded the New England Woman's Club, The Association for the Advancement of Women, and headed the American branch of the Woman's International Peace Association.

Below is a history (her story) of Mother's Day and some of the accomplishments of Howe and other women activists. Unfortunately their struggle to promote peace was largely unpublicized by today's male-dominated media that obsesses over war and violence. The Creation and Commercialization of Mother's Day

1858- Social-justice activist Anna Reeves Jarvis organizes "Mother's Works Days" in West Virginia to improve sanitation in Appalachian communities. During the Civil War, Jarvis encourages women to leave their families to care for wounded soldiers on both sides. She organizes meetings to persuade men to stop killing each other.

1870-Julia Ward Howe writes the anti-war Mothers Day Proclamation

1872-Howe proposes an annual Mother's Day for Peace. For the next 40 years, Americans celebrate Mothers' Day for Peace on June 2.

1913-Congress declares the 2nd Sunday in May as Mother's Day (it's no longer Mothers Day for Peace). The growing consumer culture redefines women as "consumers." Greedy businessmen and politicians embrace the idea of making money from the sacrifices of mothers. According to the trade journal the Florists' Review, "This was a holiday that could be exploited."

The daughter of Anna Jarvis campaigned against those who "would undermine Mother's Day with their greed" by selling expensive flowers. Unfortunately within a few years, the Florists' Review announced that it was "Miss Jarvis who was completely squelched."

1980's-An echo of the original Mother's Day for Peace; several pacifist groups demonstrate against war on Mother's Day.

Mother's Day ballooned into a billion-dollar industry. Ruth Rosen, professor of history at UC Davis said, "Americans may revere the idea of motherhood and love their own mothers, but not all mothers. Poor, unemployed mothers may enjoy flowers, but they also need child care, job training, health care, a higher minimum wage and paid parental leave.

"Imagine, if you can, an annual Million Mother March in the nation's capital. Imagine a Mother's Day filled with voices demanding social and economic justice and a sustainable future, rather than speeches studded with syrupy platitudes," Rosen said.

The connection between motherhood, peace and social justice was clear to many 19th century middle-class women. As mothers, they felt was their responsibility to care for the casualties of society and turn America into a more civilized nation.

We must restore Mother's Day for Peace as an anti-war holiday. Let's celebrate women's political achievements so the Peace Crusade of Julia Ward Howe, the struggles of Anna Reeves Jarvis and all the other women (whose names are lost in the past) were not in vain. The best way to honor mothers is not with sappy sentimentality. We must raise hell and demonstrate against war and forbid our children from joining the military.

Ultimately, it's up to the world's women (who give birth and thus, know the value of life), to inspire the world's men to help them create a world in which slain veterans exist only in the past.

Original Mother's Day Proclamation
By Julia Ward Howe Boston 1870

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

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.

Some Resources for Inspiration:

Planting of Trees for Peace- Wangari Maathai
http://www.greenbeltmovement.org/a.php?id=90 http://greenbeltmovement.org/w.php?id=82

The Peace Alliance- Campaign to Establish a U.S. Dept. Of Peace
http://www.thepeacealliance.org/

IPPNW- International Physicians Against Nuclear War
http://www.ippnw.org/

Non-Violent Peaceforce
a nonpartisan unarmed peacekeeping force composed of trained civilians from around the world.
http://www.nonviolentpeaceforce.org/

Say No to War Toys
http://www.codepink4peace.org/article.php?list=type&type=96


***


By Redwood Mary. Redwood Mary has been working from the local grassroots to the United Nations for over 15+ years and is a NGO delegate to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Redwood Mary's writings have appeared in Tree Magic, Satya Magazine, UN Commission on Human Settlements – HABITAT Debate, Bay Area Business Women, Awakened Woman E-Magazine, Berkeley Daily Planet, San Francisco Chronicle, etc. She holds a degree in public policy from Mills College Oakland California, a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from California State University, East Bay and has studied environmental sciences at College of the Redwoods (Ft. Bragg CA) and fine arts at San Francisco Art Institute and Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School for the Arts. You can reach Redwood Mary at redwoodmary (a) gmail.com.

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