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For many of us, Mother’s Day is now a check mark on the “to-do” list, an “x” on the calendar, a card tucked into a drawer or scrapbook. But before the flowers wilt, I wanted to share the power and witness of thousands of women who stood in silence on Mother’s Day, 2007, to manifest a dream to save the world.
The movement started with a book Sharon Mehdi wrote for her granddaughter called The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering. A quick summary of the story: A busboy who worked in a café whose window faced the public park noticed that two grandmotherly looking women had been standing in the park all day without moving at all and without talking. They were dressed up in their Sunday best, and were just staring at the town hall. He asked the other patrons in the café what they thought the women were up to. Then, a 5-year-old spoke up and said, “One of them is my grandmother and I know what they are doing. They are standing there to save the world.” All of the men in the café hooted and howled and laughed. On his way home the busboy decided to ask the women what they were doing – and sure enough, their answer was, “We are saving the world.” Over dinner that evening the busboy told his parents, and he and his father hooted and howled, but his mother was totally silent. After dinner, the mother called her best friends to tell them. The next morning the busboy looked out the café window and the two women were back, along with his mother, her friends, and the women who had been in the café the day before. All were standing in silence staring at the town hall. Again, the men hooted and howled and said things like, “You can’t save the world by standing in the park. That is what we have armies for,” and, “Everyone knows you have to have banners and slogans to save the world – you can’t do it by just standing in the park.” The next day, the women were joined by the women who were in the café the day before and a number of their friends. The news quickly spread and soon women were standing all over the country. The story ended with women standing in every country throughout the globe; standing to save the world.
Like the women in the story, on May 13, 2007, thousands upon thousands of women in 75 nations gathered in 3,586 different locations and stood to save the world. I was one of those women, along with my mother and my daughter – three generations standing in a little park across from a church in Granville, Ohio, standing to save the world on Mother’s Day. As we gathered in a circle with the other women in town – young, old, babies, and children – one of the grandmothers rang a bell and said:
“Today we will be standing for the world’s children and grandchildren, and for the seven generations beyond them. We dream of a world where all of our children have safe drinking water, clean air to breathe, and enough food to eat. A world where they have access to a basic education to develop their minds, and healthcare to nurture their growing bodies. A world where they have a warm, safe, and loving place to call home. A world where they don’t live in fear of violence – in their home, in their neighborhood, in their school, or in their world. This is the world of which we dream. This is the cause for which we stand.”
The bell again rang at the end of our silent witness. As my young daughter ran to see a friend, I saw my mother wipe a tear. And I knew without a doubt that if she could make it so, we would save the world – for her children, for her grandchildren, and for the seven generations beyond them.
Virginia Lohmann Bauman is a Field Organizer for Sojourners/Call to Renewal. For more information on Standing Women and next steps, see www.StandingWomen.org .