welcomes Cindy Sheehan as a columnist. Her column, “Cindy Sheehan’s Soap Box,” will appear on a regular basis.
Mother's Day was originally started after the Civil War,
as a protest to the carnage of that war, by women who had
lost their sons. The quote below is part of the original
sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
that we have been able to teach them of
mercy and patience.
women of one country will be too tender
those of another country to allow our sons
be trained to injure theirs."
Juliet Ward Howe, Mother's Day Proclamation - 1870
I had the opportunity to see a movie Water. The
film was written and directed by Deepa Mehta who is an Indian
born Canadian most known for her Elements Trilogy: Fire,
Water and Earth.
is set during the British Raj in India in 1938. It tells
the story of a widow’s ashram where widows were forced to
go after their husbands died to make lifelong atonement
for the “sins” of each widow's previous life that led to
the death of her husbands. Also, it was common for young
girls to be married to older men so when the man passed
away, the girl/woman would be able to spend a longer time
doing this renunciation for karmic circumstances.
Water follows the
story of an eight-year old girl named Chuyia who was married
to an older man who dies. Within a matter of days, Chuyia
is taken to the widow’s ashram where her Baba (Father) unceremoniously
dumps her while Chuyia screams for her mother.
learn at the end of the movie that as of 2001, there were
about 34 million widows in India who are still under this
Hindu tradition. “Brahmin widows” are not permitted to remarry
with the karmic penalty of being reborn as perhaps a jackal
in the next life.
the movie, after a young widow kills herself out of despair
over a lost opportunity for love, one of the older widows
tells Chuyia, “I hope she is reborn as a man.”
the movie, I couldn’t stop thinking about Chuyia’s mother
and all the mothers of these widowed children that were
torn from their homes and their mother’s arms and what kind
of society imposed such harsh propaganda that a woman wouldn’t
just hit her husband over the head with a frying pan, rather
than allow her daughter to be stolen from her.
That’s exactly the society we live in today, here in the
United States of America! I could not judge the “factional”
Chuyia’s mother too harshly because I allowed the violent
empire I live in to steal my son from me - and that’s what
this story has to do with Mother’s Day.
raised my son, Casey, to be a person of integrity, honor
and above all, peace. We taught all of our children that
there was always a non-violent way to solve problems: kicking,
pinching, pulling hair, punching and other forms of violence
were never tolerated and neither was name calling. I tried
to live that principle and rarely used physical punishment
with the children - so how did my oldest wind up in the
meat grinder of the US military?
when 21-year old Casey enlisted in the Army (for college
and other “benefits”), I was not happy, but I loved my son
and I forced myself to respect his decision. When
24-year old, Casey, marched off to the illegal, immoral,
and completely unnecessary war in Iraq, I made half-hearted
attempts to convince him to go to Canada, but when I saw
that he was reluctantly doing what he called “his duty,”
I tried to swallow my fear and choke back my tears to put
the best face on a tragic situation.
24-year old, Casey, came home in a body bag encased in a
coffin, draped with the bloody flag of the murderous colonizer,
I was told my son was a “hero.” I would say, “I know, but
why is he dead?” Why did his country kill him and why did
I let it?
killers of my son gave me a “Gold Star,” yet, I will have
to live the rest of my life in an invisible “grieving mother’s
ashram” to make amends for failing in my job as a mother.
But part of my atonement is to expose the Empire in which
I live for what it is: a callous purveyor of violence for
is no one in this world that cares for you more than your
mother did, or your mother does.
societal norms go against our very consciences and everything
we believe and everything that we hold so dear and precious
to us, we should stand up to that prevailing idiocy and
refuse to allow our children to be mistreated by patriarchal,
racist, sexist, and sadistic frauds.
time to time, I have run across a few sad Gold Star Mothers
who have had a child killed in the Empire’s Wars for Profit,
and they take exception with me when I opine that our children
died for nothing but greed. I have been told, “I didn’t
like it when my son/daughter was killed, but if he/she didn’t
go and fight them ‘over there,’ we would be fighting them
‘over here!’” One mother even was thankful that her son
fought and died so she wouldn’t have to “wear a burqa.”
I kid you not!
whole package of Imperial mythology and propaganda about
fighting for “freedom and democracy,” and to keep the home
fires burning for “Mom and apple pie” is a hard one to deconstruct
when so many mothers want to believe the obvious lies with
their whole hearts so they don’t have to have the added
pain of knowing that their child died for nothing good.
bad as the above phrases are, the one about fighting them
“over there” also highlights the arrogance and racism of
Empire that says that American babies have a greater existential
imperative than other babies, just because of some random
accident of birth. It is monstrous.
about the entire antiwar movement has abdicated its responsibility
to agitate for the greatest good in ending the wars - even
the so-called feminist oriented ones - but I can guarantee
you, we mothers could stop war by doing what Juliet Ward
Howe advocated in the final paragraph of her 1870 Mother’s
the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
a general congress of women without limit of nationality
be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace."
Columnist, Cindy Sheehan, is the mother of US Army Specialist,
Casey Sheehan, who was KIA in Iraq on April 04, 2004. Since
then, Cindy has traveled the world demanding that violence
be ended as a foreign policy tool for the global elite.
She has written five books, been nominated for the Nobel
Peace Prize, hosts a weekly radio talk show, Cindy
Sheehan's Soapbox and loves playing with her three
small grandchildren in her spare time. Click here
to contact Ms. Sheehan.