"I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, 'Mother, what was war?'" - Eve Merriam
One might think that, despite military propaganda, we would take a break from the "support the troops" tripe - at least on Mother's Day - a day to remember the one who brought us into this world.
If militarists are going to persist in claiming that soldiers need support, we should be equally adamant in reminding them of the mothers (and fathers) that children are supposed to honor. How about "Honor Mom. Don't grow up to be a soldier"?
Most parents, bringing children into this world, love and nurture them in the hope that they will become happy, productive adults. We teach them not to bully or terrorize and to have empathy for others. "It's not nice to hit others" is the child's version of "Though shall not kill".
And yet, preachers, rabbis and imans fall silent when it comes to their wards joining the world's largest military, going overseas and taking the lives of innocent families - so long as it's done for "America". What idolatry.
I recently watched the dialogue between a mother and her soldier son who was fortunate to return from Iraq (mostly) intact. She was clearly against the war in Iraq while he said that he had killed to "keep the bad at bay". Bull.
I've been to Iraq on multiple occasions and most significant "bad" is that of our own creation - the ongoing occupation. The killing of American soldiers on a daily basis wouldn't occur if they were there in peace and not subjecting Iraqi citizens to arbitrary searches, imprisonment, forced closures of schools and hospitals, restricted movement within their communities and airs attacks on their cities. This is terrorism, not "freedom".
One of the most significant events in human civilization occurred thousands of years ago when the practice of infant sacrifice was abolished. Societies realized that neither the weather nor combat "victory" could be ensured by the killing of the young - it was all just superstition. And yet, we read in the paper and even our national leaders speak of the "sacrifice" of young men and women for their country. More idolatrous bull.
If something as important as defending the nation results in war, then why aren't the parents the first ones in line. I know that I would never ask a child to die for me, but I would give my last breath for them if the need arose. What good parent wouldn't?
Julia War Howe, author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, was a patriot and a mother. She was also against slavery and the originator of the original Mother's Day in 1870.
"Arise then...women of this day!" she wrote. "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."
And yet, more than a century after Mother's Day began, the United States has become a country where the "sword of murder" is an instrument of national policy.
Next week, members of the House of Representatives are expected to vote to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq through 2009. They plan to become accomplices in a continued occupation that can only lead to disaster - and the loss of life of more children. This can only be called an abomination and those who vote for it complicit in war crimes.
At the same time, millions of Americans will be honoring their mother by continuing to work for peace, struggling to end war and resisting the siren call of military recruiters. No matter what other families do, mine will be on this side. I will give my mother, the only gift she has ever wanted and the only thing I wish from my own sons.
It is the continued hope that one day the poor and humble will be fed and the rich and powerful brought learn wisdom, that all can live in peace and with justice - and that every day will become a "Mother's Day".
Charlie Jackson is the founder of Texans for Peace and the father of two young men. He has made three humanitarian trips to Iraq.