I write this today in homage to my mother and all our mothers who gave birth to us, helped create the world we live in and started our generation on the path to advocate for a world without violence, without rape, without domestic violence, without assault, without violence. Does anyone remember the origins of Mothers Day?
Julia Ward Howes, an antislavery advocate, wrote the original Mother’s Day Proclamation: Arise then…women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts! Whether your baptism be of water or of tears! Say firmly: “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 bosom 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 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 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.
I think how these words resonate today with our continued efforts to eliminate all forms of violence. I look at the industry of anti-violence advocates focused on sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Most of the leaders in this field, in state-wide coalitions and in local direct service agencies are women. These powerful women who came into this field to address violence against women and the impact of violence on our children. These women are mother’s seeking to a better place to raise their children and for their daughters to have a safer world to raise their children. I applaud the women who work, volunteer and intern in these agencies. These women are strong advocates to end violence, to serve our community to create a safer place for children to grow up in, and to provide treatment to survivors of violence. These strong women are mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, and daughters who dedicate their lives to creating safer communities for all of us to live in. I applaud the mother’s of our anti-violence agencies who give of their time, their energy, their focus to make our communities’ a safer place to live and work. When I was a director of a local rape crisis center, one of my employees made the comment that I am the mother of all of them in this agency. I suppose all of the director’s who run cause-focused agencies are symbolic mothers in this work of educating employees, interns, and volunteers who come to help our cause. I feel the influence of each women in anti-violence agencies is more equitable; we learn from, support, and help each other. We are mothers to each other. I knew then that I couldn’t lead such an agency in such a difficult and controversial field without each of them, the work they do, the sacrifices they make, and the heart they have toward each other. My thanks to all the women, the mothers of anti-violence advocates everywhere. I give thanks to their mothers, and my mother and mother-in-law who are models of creating strong, independent women who seek to make a difference in this world.
Happy Mothers Day!