Monday, March 19, 2007

The Hen | Mothers Day [UK, Yesterday]

Mothers are a nuisance. Mothers can be really embarrassing.

Mothers have stood up to political authorities, making a nuisance and embarrassing them into doing what is right. Or, if not, embarrassing the wider world into saying, “What you are doing is wrong, and we are watching you.” Or, if even this does not happen, staying anyway…

Mothers have stood up to boy soldiers, embarrassing them, causing them to think twice before carrying out illegal and unethical orders. Or, if not, being beaten, even beaten to death; cut to pieces; (rarely shot – who would waste a bullet on a mother?). But staying anyway…

It will be mothers who take the lead in making a nuisance of themselves and embarrassing the community – if that is what it takes – into addressing the issues behind the recent spate of teenage gang murders in London…while resigned teenagers tell reporters that this is just how things are now, and we just have to live with it; and politicians call for legislation that will reactively address the symptoms, not proactively address root causes.

In his book Exiles [pp. 118-120], Michael Frost writes about the Four Mothers Movement in Israel; Nobel Peace Prize winners Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan from Northern Ireland; and the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo in Argentina – as just some examples of the lead that women have taken in forming communitas, or purpose-intentional community. And while each example embraces women who aren’t mothers, and men, when it comes to social justice, mothers often stand up to be counted first, and stay after everyone else has gone home. Not superwomen. Certainly not porcelain saints. Just tenacious, flawed mothers.

Mothers are undervalued by male-dominated society: in the ‘Developed Nations,’ not least because they generate no immediately obvious economic benefit (of course, neither does the teaching profession – both invest in the future – but that’s a double-standard that needs confronting). Ironically, mothers are equally undervalued by the feminist movement, which insists that the primary context in which women should find fulfilment is through their career, through economic independence, rather than (for men and women) through the quality of their relationships. Mothers have little military-economic power. But, at their best – and we can all tell stories of when mothers fail, at least in our opinion – mothers exert a moral authority that no politician or general or corporate CEO can match, or, with a few notable exceptions, come close to.

Mothers are a nuisance. Mothers can be really embarrassing.
Thank God it is so.

At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”
He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day – for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Jesus, Luke 13:31-35

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