A Fierce Love

It seems appropriate to write this column on Mother’s Day — a
perfect, warm, breezy Sunday. The lilacs are intoxicating, my
oldest son will be home from college in a few hours, and my stepson
and daughter-in-law are coming over to cook dinner, so I’ll have
all my babies under my wing.

My middle son appears, only slightly ragged in the aftermath of
last night’s senior prom. This son will be 19 — and eligible — on
June 15, 2005, when the draft apparatus could be ready to swing
into operation for the first time since it ended in 1973. I see him
and think of the original intention behind Mother’s Day. In 1870,
in Boston, Julia Ward Howe issued a call to women:

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 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.’

The twin bills currently in the U.S. Senate and House, proposed
in January 2003 by Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Senator
Ernest Hollings (D-SC), would make this draft an equal-opportunity
one — women as well as men, no deferments (for the latest news,
see
draftdiscussion.org).
The military rule of thumb is that there need to be twice as many
soldiers in the pipeline as there are on active duty. By that
measure, we are 125,000 short right now. Even with National Guard
and Reserves tours extended. Even before we reap the payback of the
hatred we are spawning around the world.

And where are the bodies going to come from to feed this
insanity? My mind goes to the mundane: the pregnancies and births,
the endless nursing, and years of interrupted sleep. I machinate on
how to save my children. Ship them to my sister in Australia? To my
daughter-in-law’s family in Sweden? Or maybe the homophobia angle
— I’ve read that the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy may be the
best loophole out of the military: Come out and you won’t be
allowed in. (I have lots of pictures of my children playing
cross-dress-up.)

There are a thousand issues that inflame me. Like most of you, I
am outraged by the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. I think it is
essential that we defeat Bush in November (though I am afraid that
if we don’t head off paperless voting, this coup d’?tat may be
complete). I am distressed by continued environmental degradation,
the unfairness of the criminal justice system — the exhausting
list goes on and on.

Somehow, I manage to hold the breathtaking enormity at the
fringe of my awareness as I move through the details of my life.
But threaten to take my children, and the mother tigress is
unleashed. And if not my children, then some other mother’s, in
this country and in Iraq and Afghanistan and wherever else the Bush
Doctrine leads us. ‘We women of one country,’ Julia Ward Howe said,
‘Will be too tender to those of another country / To allow our sons
to be trained to injure theirs.’

Horrified as I am at the prospect of the draft, this issue may
be the tinder that ignites the next American Revolution. A
revolution that calls forth all that is best and highest in our
national character. A revolution that declares Code Pink
(codepinkalert.org) for
love and compassion, instead of codes red and orange for fear,
greed, and manipulation. A revolution born out of the radical
belief that love is stronger than fear. A revolution we can dance
and sing to.

This mother tigress is waking up. And I am not alone.

Just a Reminder

Thousands of Americans, of all political stripes, are gathering
across the country to talk about the state of our democracy. To
find a conversation near you, go to
www.letstalkamerica.org

Nina Utne’s Speaking Schedule

Saturday, July 17th, 6:30 pm
Mama Gathering Conference
Minneapolis Convention Center
Minneapolis, Minnesota
www.mamagathering.org
to register

Saturday, July 24th, 7:30 pm
Let’s Talk America Discussion
Space Gallery
Sponsored by Casco Bay Books
Portland, Maine
www.letstalkamerica.org
to register
www.cascobaybooks.com
for more information

Saturday, September 11th, 6:30 pm
Women’s Adventure Retreat
September 9-12
Livingston, Montana
www.northrock.org for
information and to register

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