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Commentary :: Gender
I am a mother . . . The power in the lone feminine voice raised in protest
07 Oct 2004
A voice is rising above the wails of grieving mothers heard around the world. It's a bold and angry voice speaking out against the tyrants who cold-heartedly consume our children in the name of phony "Wars on Drugs" and "Wars on Terror."
First published at Axis of Logic, October 1, 2004

Throughout my life, I have seen women, acting with an apparently innate sense of authority, perform many acts of love and courage in their roles as mothers. For example, when I was small, I witnessed a showdown between a young mother, backed by other women in the neighborhood, and an adult male who had taken her two small children into the nearby woods without her permission. The solidarity among those women sent the strong message to the person involved and any would-be offenders that such behavior would not be tolerated.

But that kind of unity among women does not seem to exist in the United States today. The responsibility and authority to collectively provide care for children and the weak was not assigned by any outside power and could not have been taken away. It appears that the women of our country have simply abandoned responsibility for the welfare of children other than their own.

Why is it that the opening up of nontraditional career opportunities to women didn't result in the strengthening of the feminine principles of protection and nurturing in the public domain? It seems that in our eagerness to prove ourselves equal to our male coworkers, we have neglected the very principles which might have prevented the transformation of our national personality, resulting from our leaders' sell out to corporate interests, into that of a greedy brute.

As more women have gone to work outside the home, government agencies have assumed more of the parental and charitable responsibilities they once performed. Consequently, the position of "mother" as a career has become devalued. The female who is head of her household, in addition to enduring increasing violation of her authority by the courts and schools, has had heavy legal and financial burdens heaped on her with the seduction of local government and service agencies by the profit motive. Single mothers, especially those receiving assistance, are among the most abused and maligned groups in our society.

The diminishing feminine voice in the United States has limited the exercise of power that lies dormant among the female population of this country, while women in some repressed societies, such as Afghanistan, have united to create a vigorous coalition against repression. Women here have not only remained silent, but have also turned deaf ears to complaints by their own friends and family about one of our government's worst assaults on human rights, a disgrace which has occurred in our own back yard -- the so called "War on Drugs."

But a mother will stand by her child when all others have forsaken him, and when he becomes the victim of persecution, she will defy the most fearsome powers to defend him. A voice is rising above the wails of grieving mothers heard around the world. It's a bold and angry voice speaking out against the tyrants who cold-heartedly consume our children in the name of phony "Wars on Drugs" and "Wars on Terror."

No one knows the destructive power of drug abuse better than the parent of a drug addicted child. Increasingly people are learning that no matter how upright their lives, no family is immune from the scourge. Yet justice officials' malicious branding of drug users acts as a deterrent to family members advocating for humane treatment of their children. Often the mother is the sole advocate for the addicted person brought under the law's jurisdiction. Commonly treated with disrespect by justice officials, still it is the mother who usually stands up for the loved one who becomes the victim of abuse by authority.

Pamela Fulger of Pennsylvania wrote to to complain about her son’s being beaten by state police during a sting arrest and afterward being denied medical treatment. When she confronted one of the arresting officers at the preliminary hearing, he simply told her to file a complaint, apparently secure in the belief that nothing would happen to him.

In speaking out, Ms. Webster may have laid the foundation for the establishment of organized opposition to government corruption in her community.

Jocelyn Hurndall of the U.K. says that her son Tom wanted “to make a difference” through his volunteer work in the Middle East. He lay comatose for eight months after being shot in the head by an Israeli soldier while trying to help Palestinian children get to safety. He died in February, 2004, following the publication of the article, “The Israeli army shot my son,” written by his mother. The essay reveals a mother’s anger, not only because of her son’s murder, but also because of the rising death toll of Palestinians murdered by the Israeli government. Ms. Hurndall also expressed disillusionment at Tony Blair and the British government for their failure to protest the incident.

Because of his mother’s fight for justice and through the work of the Thomas Hurndall Foundation , Tom is still making a difference in the Middle East conflict.

Naomi Klein says that parents of soldiers killed in Iraq are overcoming censorship and fear to speak out against their government’s sacrifice of young soldiers’ lives in their illegal campaigns. In the article, “The grieving parents who might yet bring Bush down,”,3858,4967983-103550,00.html Ms. Klein discussed the solidarity that is growing among parents of children lost to the Bush coalition’s wars, a dynamic which contains the potential for eventually overthrowing the rogue government that currently holds power in our United States of America.

But it may take a while yet for these feminine voices to coalesce into a movement strong enough to be a major force in undoing the damage caused by the dark powers that rule today. You’ve probably heard the saying, “things are going to get worse before they get better,” repeated a lot lately. There may be more truth to that than we would like to realize.

Women’s sensitivity to another’s cry, especially that of a child, is a natural feminine response which may have been key to the survival of our species. How much longer should we expect to flourish on this earth with this instinct for compassion suppressed? But with so many women buying into the competitive view being promoted by our leaders, this country’s “mother’s heart” has grown cold. It’s hard to understand how women who love and cherish their own children can tolerate, or even applaud, the harsh measures our government has taken against other women’s children. What many may not realize is that the increasing curtailment to freedom will eventually provoke rebellion among loved ones in our own circle, and then we will come to understand the grief of those parents who have lost children to our country’s greedy rampages.

To get a glimpse of what life could be like in the United States if our government achieves the kind of totalitarian control they are moving toward, one only has to read about the struggle of citizens of Turkey against their government’s “War Against Terror,” which has resulted in mass imprisonment and even massacre of protestors. People are being set upon for the slightest resistence to government rule, such as belonging to an opposing party or for speaking up for their loved ones.

Tayibe Aydin risked her own freedom to publish a letter telling about her imprisoned son’s death fast, his last battle against the Turkish government’s repression, and challenging readers to choose – either to be on the side of “collaborators with the monopolistic capitalists,” whom she blames for the oppression, or to be on the side of “noble human behavior.”

Why did Tayibe write the letter? She said she had given up on her government. Her son had already fasted for over four hundred days, and she described his body as “melted” for the cause of real democracy. What did she hope to accomplish? I believe she was addressing other parents when she began each section with the salutation, “Mrs. and Mr. . . .” Could it be that she still has faith in the special bond that exists among parents because of love for their children?

Increased solidarity among parents of children killed as the result of our country’s criminal aggression is inevitable as the casualties rise. And compassion for the people enduring the onslaught of our war violence will likely grow as more citizens witness firsthand the use of increasing levels of force by their local law officials against their own friends and family. Maybe then the grieving mother will not feel so alone when she protests the cruelties committed against her child.

But what about the lone voices whose cries of grief seem now to be falling on deaf ears? Would Tayibe’s words be wasted if no one ever read them, or might they contain a power that neither she nor we can comprehend? There’s something special, possibly the natural air of authority, in the beginning phrase of her letter when she stated:

“I am a mother . . .”

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