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Updated on May 14, 2017

Mother's Day Celebrated Today

The original Mother's Day actually did not honor mothers. This might surprise you, but it's very true. It was a gathering of mothers who had seen their husbands, fathers, sons, brothers and uncles die in the Civil War. They wanted to do something about all the devastation caused by this war which claimed so many lives.

Julia Ward Howe, mother, author, lyricist and activist, wanted to do something for the vets of the Civil War. She declared a Mother's Day Proclamation in 1870 which encouraged women to gather for peace.

Many women were dealing with the men in their lives who had been injured in the war or had given their lives in the war. The slaves were free and the Union had been preserved, but our nation was just starting to deal with the aftermath of the Civil War.

Here is the greatest section of this proclamation: "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 out 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."

Earlier in the Civil War, Julia had written lyrics to a very famous song, The Battle Hymn of the Republic. In 1862 she joined her husband, Samuel Gridley Howe, in performing public service to her country on the U.S. Sanitary Commission. More men died at army camps than in the war itself. The commission developed plans to reduce the deaths in the camps.

On June 2, 1872 in New York City this gathering of the first mother's day made a stand for peace. For a decade Julia gathered with women each year in Boston. The modern Mother's Day is a far cry from its radical beginnings as a stand for peace. As Pandit Rick mentioned in this morning's katha, Mother's Day has become very commercialized. We often forget the element of love for Mother.

In ancient times there was a war called the Kurukshetra War. Lord Krishna, the Divine Messenger of Peace, tried to get Duryodhan, the evil prince who was the son of King Dhritarashtra, to compromise. Of course he would not even consider compromise. Towards the end of the war, an enemy soldier entered the tent of Draupadee, the wife of the five virtuous Pandava brothers. Each of the men had a son who slept in the tent who were also fighting in the war. The enemy soldier thought he had killed the five brothers, but he actually killed all the sons instead. Drapupadee decided against capital punishment. She said that she did not want to add to the carnage and knew what it was like to lose her sons. Instead she had his hair cut off as a sign of humility. Women do have a history of making a stand for peace in the ancient world, as seen in this story, and in the modern world.

An amazing thing happened in October of 2016. A two-week cross country march for peace happened in the Middle East. It began at the Dead Sea and continued all the way to Jerusalem. These were Israeli and Palestinian women who were fed up with all the carnage in the Middle East. Many of these women on both sides had lost fathers, sons, uncles and brothers to the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. They wanted an end to it all. They had a Dance of Hope along the way. Fadwa Shear from Ramallah, who marched in the this march for peace, was pretty blunt about all the actions of her countrymen: "We can not count on men to create peace. We will have to do it by ourselves."

So this Mother's Day we can make a stand for peace in our hearts, neighborhoods, regions, countries and even in the whole Earth. Honor your mother this Mother's Day in the best way by doing something great to help her out in the home, in her workplace or spiritual community. Truly every day should be Mother's Day. She brought you into the world to make it a better place. Make a stand for peace!




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