On the 9th of May a collective of peace activists, going by the stage name ‘Collateral Reflux’, decided to adopt another strategy than the usual street march with placards and chanting. Their protest was a piece of Street Theatre called ‘Wailing Women’. Watch this space for more drama about things that matter…
As this year marks the 10th anniversary of the illegal war in Iraq, and with Mother’s Day coming up, it was decided to dedicate the performance to the bereaved mothers of the Iraq war, but of course the sorrow expressed here relates to all mothers who lose their children in war zones. In fact Mother’s Day came about as a day of peace in the US because of the Civil War (see below).
We feel the same about the death, destruction and loss of innocent life in war everywhere. It hardly bodes well for civilization when you have more chance now of dying in war as an innocent civilian than as a combatant. 90% of all deaths in war are unarmed civilians.
How did killing civilians to such a degree ever become normalized? How can war on civilians ever be deafened by the worn out catch cry of ‘Support our Troops’? Are we really expected to support the killing of predominantly women and children? Is it not even more grotesque, knowing now that the Iraq War was based on lies? We must learn that our armies should never be called on again for any reason other than defence.
Unexpectedly, we had the opportunity to feel what Muslim women feel once we got dressed for the performance. Before then, we had been blasting AC/DC through the loudspeakers for about an hour, and no one seemed to mind. Things changed however when we put on our chadors. Within minutes the police were there, asking what this protest was called and who was in charge. We told them it wasn’t a protest but a multi-media performance, and after some negotiations were allowed to continue. The looks on their faces were priceless when we disrobed and our blonde and red heads were exposed…
Thank you to all who were involved, particularly the children who were an absolute pleasure to work with. And thanks to Dahlia Wasfi, for her quote used in the projections.
The first North American Mother’s Day was conceptualised with Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870. Despite having penned ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’ 12 years earlier, Howe had become so distraught by the death and carnage of the Civil War that she called on Mothers everywhere to come together and protest what she saw as the futility of “Sons killing the sons of other mothers”.
With the following poem, Julia Ward Howe called for an international Mother’s Day celebrating peace and motherhood:
Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise all women who have hearts,
Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears
We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of 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 of ten 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 then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions.
The great and general interests of peace.
Film: Cathy Vogan
Editorial: Gail Malone