Personal Voices: A Mother's Day Manifesto

Forgive my cynicism about Mother's Day. After all, what kind of ungrateful mother wouldn't want to be honored with pesticide-laced flowers, chocolate that depends on children in slavery for its production and cards that deplete our forests and litter Mother Earth? Truly, it is the ultimate insult to honor life-giving with such toxic offerings.

Mothering in a world where damaging behavior is the revered norm is an oxymoron. Here in the United States, we are guilty not only of damaging our own children's lives, but the lives of children everywhere. We have signed off on a value system that funds smart bombs but not schools. We cut school lunches in order to scrape up money to build and drop clustered bomblets that are the perfect size (soda can) and color (bright yellow) for catching the interest of a curious, thirsty or hungry child.

We have money to destroy homes, but not to shelter the homeless. We pollute our land, air and water with all manner of poisons and despair when asthma and cancer rates rise, and sperm counts go down. And all the while, health care becomes less and less accessible; health itself, impossible. All the billions spent on military machinery cannot eradicate the fact that there are some 9.2 million children without health insurance and more than 11 million children living in poverty in the U.S. alone. Is this the freedom we are fighting for?

In the United States alone, millions of children are abused each year. On a global basis, the number is uncountable. Children are neglected, as well as sexually and physically abused. They are subjected to sexual slavery, genital mutilation and starvation. They are rounded up in Palestine, exposed to depleted uranium in Iraq and Afghanistan , and detained in Guantanamo -- this last in direct violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which the U.S. has signed and to which it is therefore bound.

In "The Price of Motherhood," Ann Crittenden makes the point that raising children is an investment in the future. It is our responsibility to wisely nurture our children. In this, we are failing miserably.

In the United States on May 11, as we celebrate Mother's Day, let us refuse the false offerings. There is an urgent need to protest U.S. duplicity and complicity in this sorry web of atrocities that endangers the lives of our children. As mothers, we have the awesome right and responsibility to firmly say no to the life-destroying ethos that has hijacked our future and to demand that nurturing become a national and global priority. Indeed, it is our matriotic duty.

Lucinda Marshall is a feminist artist, writer, and activist. She is the founder and co-moderator of the Feminist Peace Network. The Virago Series, her work about female images can be seen at Most importantly, she says, she is the mother of 2 wonderful sons, and the daughter of a wonderful mother. This essay is dedicated to them.

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