For some of us, “Mother’s Day” conjures up visions of flowers, homemade cards, breakfast in bed and maybe a well-deserved day of rest for Mom. This was my reality when my children were growing up. I looked forward to admiring their handmade gifts, and reading the messages of love written in crayon. 

Then a few years ago, when my children were grown, I came across Julia Ward Howe’s 1870 call for an International Mothers Day of Peace and read her impassioned plea for the mothers of the world to unite against the futility and horror of war. This struck me like a thunderbolt, and this new understanding of the history of Mothers Day inspired me to find ways to promote a more peaceful world. 

The time for humanity to resolve conflicts without violence is long overdue. The lessons taught by mothers (and others) throughout our history (treating others fairly, taking turns, being respectful, and saying thank you) are simple, but very profound. I believe the true nature of humanity is one of co-operation and compassion. The conditions under which so many of our brothers and sisters are living can make co-operation and compassion difficult to express, but many people do express these very qualities in many ways every day. 

What would happen if the peoples of the world decided to reject the calls to arms made by their leaders and instead demand that non-violent ways to resolve conflicts must be found and used? Some may say this is naïve thinking and will never happen; that we have always fought wars and always will. 

But must that truly be the destiny of humanity, to fight never-ending wars, to sacrifice generations of our children and endlessly do battle with each other? Is this the best we can do? For all our sakes, I hope not. 

Using a day on which we celebrate the loving nurturing performed by mothers the world over, as a catalyst to find ways in our own families, and communities to promote co-operation and compassion is my hope for this Mothers Day and those to come. 

Join me in using this day to reflect on ways you can be a “mother” to our hurting world. A small act of kindness, volunteering for an organization that fills local needs, trying to understand people whose views are different from yours, even a smile to a stranger, will all have a positive effect on the giver and the receiver. 

If not now, when? If not us, who? Happy Mothers Day!

Cynthia Robinson

Oak Park 

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