Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day and Social Justice

In churches across the country today, pastors will preach on the importance of mothers. Perhaps we'll talk about Jesus' mom, Mary. At the end of service, maybe every woman will receive a flower. Maybe we'll clap for our mothers.

Perhaps after service, we'll go out for brunch. We'll send flowers, and many of us have already sent cards. We'll spend lots of money.

Over at The New York Times, the always wonderful Nicholas Kristof writes a piece where he declares that we should make this a day that celebrates all mothers (moving the apostrophe over a space, from Mother's Day to Mothers' Day). We could do this by donating a portion of what we would have spent on our moms to social justice networks that make the world safer for women, especially women in developing nations:

"Happy Mother’s Day! And let me be clear: I’m in favor of flowers, lavish brunches, and every other token of gratitude for mothers and other goddesses.

Let me also add that your mom — yes, I’m speaking to you — is particularly deserving. (As is mine, as is my wife. And my mother-in-law!)

And because so many people feel that way, some $14 billion will be spent in the United States for Mother’s Day this year, according to the National Retail Federation. That includes $2.9 billion in meals, $2.5 billion in jewelry and $1.9 billion in flowers.

To put that sum in context, it’s enough to pay for a primary school education for all 60 million girls around the world who aren’t attending school. That would pretty much end female illiteracy."

He goes on to talk about what we could do with the money left: we could improve women's health care and reduce maternal mortality. It's startling how many women in poor countries still die in childbirth. Heck, it's startling how many women in our country still die, or come uncomfortably close to dying, because of health complications brought on by pregnancy.

I'm lucky. My mom doesn't need much material stuff, and she's not the type who demands presents to prove that she's loved. We've all moved from giving each other presents in my family to making donations to worthy causes. Nicholas Kristof is a champion of those causes.

Your dollars do more to create social change when they go to the third world--so little money can create such good. Today is a good day to donate: in honor of your mother, in honor of past mothers, in honor of women everywhere.

God demands that we look out for the poor and the destitute, and across the planet, it's most often women who are dispossessed and marginalized. On this day that honors women, we could start (or continue with our efforts) to change that depressing fact.

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