Hey mom! Happy Mother’s Day! Would you like some controversial thought today? Because that’s what I got you…
I dedicate this blog post to you mom, with a shout-out to Rev. Lora Brandis, Consulting Minister at South Valley Unitarian Universalist (SVUUS) and Pocatello Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (PUUF), another mom who opened my eyes a bit today. In fact, to all moms who want a world where their children can live and love in peace.
My own mother wanted me to be a conscientious objector. In fact, when I said I was not, she sent me to talk to our minister, Kenneth L. Patten (yes, that Kenneth Leo Patten). There’s a long, bemusing story about how that turned out, the gist is that neither my mom nor I, got what we wanted…and today I was reminded of our loving disagreement on this subject.
Rev. Brandis shared a compelling sermon about Mother’s Day that invoked these thoughts (hence the shout-out to her), she read Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day proclamation (Quoted from Singing the Living Tradition) which I had never heard before, and which I found deeply moving and interesting:
Arise, then women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of tears! Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, Our husbands shall 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 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 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. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as the means where by the great human family can live in peace, and each bearing after her own time the sacred impress, not of Ceasar, but of God.
What an incredible vision. A call that goes beyond celebrating our individual mothers and connects us together in this common bond; we all had a mother.
So here is the challenge; Rev. Brandis reminded us that even Osama Bin Laden was once a child in his mothers arms.
This struck a cord for me. As I listened this morning, I realized that since I first learned of Osama’s death, reading a Facebook quote that was cheering…I have avoided reading more or even thinking about the event. And this Mother’s Day I have to stop and realize how uncomfortable I am celebrating any death.
Do not mistake what I am saying; there is no doubt in my mind that Osama Bin Laden was plotting to kill more innocent people, and that killing him will delay such plans. I believe and accept that his death was necessary, not in vengeance, because no vengeance can restore the loss of a loved one, or ease such pain. I accept that it had to happen because I accept that as a leader, his relationship to our culture had degenerated to such a place where there was no hope for reconciliation. His continued leadership would bring only death, pain and suffering.
I can accept the necessity of such death because I accept that when a life is powerfully committed to causing pain and suffering that life has no place in a peaceful world.
However, I will not celebrate death. I cannot. And after this Mother’s Day, I know why…
Its because he had a mom. He was a kid. At some point in his life, he was one of those innocents we want to protect…and he deserved more than a life of pain and suffering. He deserved more than a life of hatred…everyone deserves more than that. So all I can feel is a sadness, a resolute, accepting sadness.
And I think back to our conversations about conscientious objection; maybe my mom was hoping to save me from understanding what it is to have to accept such necessity.
I still believe that so long as some people put profits ahead of human rights, the system will create those who have so much pain, so much hate, that we cannot fix it. I still accept that there are circumstances where murderous, hateful intent cannot be redirected.
So I am still no conscientious objector…because to be a conscientious objector, I have to say, honestly, that I could not choose between my life, or the lives of my loved ones, and someone else.
I can make that choice. A kung-fu master once said to me, “We do not study kung fu because we like violence. We study kung fu because we love life. We love life so much that if someone would take ours, we would stop them.”
Yeah. Thats me. Every time.
But I’ll never celebrate it. I cannot. It feels all wrong. The only sentiment I have is a sadness.
I think maybe I have my Mom to thank for that bit of angst.
And actually, I am very grateful. I am glad that though I felt the necessity of a death, I could not join in celebrating it. I appreciate that particular pain.