Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace


Posted by strattof on May 7, 2015

In North America, Mother’s Day comes from an anti-war Mother’s Day Proclamation written in 1870 by US suffragette, abolitionist, and peace activist Julia Ward Howe.

Horrified by the carnage of the American Civil War, Howe became a crusader for peace and for the equality of all people, regardless of race, religion, or gender.

Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation calls on women everywhere to rise up against war. As a passage from it shows, Howe’s original words are as relevant in 2015 as they were in 1870: 

Arise, then, women of this day!

Arise, all women who have hearts,

Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

 Our husbands will 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, the 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.”

It is not too late to answer Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day call for world peace and justice. 



In March, the Harper government passed a motion to extend Canada’s military mission in Iraq for another 12 months and to expand it into Syria. Liberals, New Democrats, and Greens all voted against the motion, expressing concern for such things as mission creep, the safety of Canadian soldiers, and the lack of UN or NATO authorization.

At no point did either side of the House show concern for Iraqi or Syrian civilians. How will they be affected by western airstrikes?

Here are figures taken from Body Count, a new report published in the US by Physicians for Social Responsibility: In the first 12 years of the so-called “war on terror,”

  • About a million people were killed in Iraq, and
  • 220,000 people in Afghanistan.

“Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”


Rather than seeking a peaceful resolution to hostilities in Ukraine, Canada continues to beat the drums of war.

  • In April, the Harper government announced it was sending 200 soldiers to Ukraine to train its military forces.
  • It also announced it was giving the Ukrainian government a second $200 million loan.

In its war-making policy, the Harper government has the support of the Liberals and New Democrats. According to all three main parties, the crisis was precipitated by Russian aggression in Crimea and Vladimir Putin is solely responsible for it.

It’s not quite that simple. Left out of this version of events is the role of NATO in initiating the crisis.

  • After the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, NATO began to court former Soviet republics to join the western military alliance.
  • In 2004, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania were admitted to NATO.
  • NATO has also made overtures to Georgia and Ukraine.

The aim of these NATO actions is to intimidate and humiliate Russia.

“Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”


As wars rage on, we call for peace. War is a disaster for everyone who experiences it. War is also incredibly stupid. Surely we can solve our problems without killing each other.

Below are 6 simple steps nations can take that would lead to warfare becoming much less likely.

  1. Celebrate peace, not war.
  2. Get out of NATO.
  3. Use diplomatic means to mediate a settlement between opposing forces.
  4. End the war economy, shifting military production to a sustainable and innovative economy that makes the things people need and provides good jobs.
  5. Work to curb the arms trade.
  6. Work to abolish nuclear weapons.

Canada should take the lead in making world peace a reality. In the run-up to the federal election, ask the candidates in your electoral district to work for peace, not for war.

“Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”


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