Friday, May 11, 2012

Cake stalls and fighter jets


Another Mother’s Day, another kinder cake stall. I am a mother, and I protest.

The modern celebration of Mother’s Day arose out of a call to radical peacemaking. Women were reeling after the carnage of the American Civil War; Mother’s Day was proposed by women as a pacifist initiative to end the culture of war. The original proclamation for Mother’s Day rejected all forms of violence, and instead called for an international congress of women to negotiate global conflict through peaceful means.

Now Mother’s Day has been co-opted by our consume-or-die culture. Instead of street marches, letters to the government and sit ins at the local army barracks, it has become a day of bad restaurant lunches, tacky presents nobody needs, and kinder cake stalls at the local shopping centre. While I can roll my eyes at the lunches and the fluffy slippers, the cake stalls drive me to distraction.

Why, in the name of all that is holy, do we pay billions for the military while every public school and kindergarten is holding a bake sale this weekend to raise money for essential items? Floating around in the eighties was a lovely tea towel sold, I am sure, at school fundraisers. It read something along the lines of ‘it will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need, and the air force has to hold a cake stall to buy a new fighter jet.’ Hear, hear.

I do not understand how we can fail to invest in our young while military spending goes through the roof. Surely the easiest route to safety and security is to ensure a proper education and reasonable opportunity for all: not just for wealthy children, not even just for our children, but for all children everywhere across the globe. Security is not attained through the development of deadlier weapons systems deployed to threaten and kill other people’s sons and daughters; nor is it attained by brutalizing our own sons and daughters as they are trained in the arts of war. Instead, it is only possible when everyone has enough: enough food, enough healthcare, enough education, enough work.

I protest the cake stall and everything it represents, and yet my daughter’s kindergarten needs plants in the garden and crafts in the cupboard. So I roll up my sleeves and bake peanut butter cookies and wrap them up in cellophane; but as I do so, in a small rebellion of sorts, I say a prayer for peace.

You can read Julia Ward Howe’s original Mother’s Day Proclamation here; contribute to an international development fund here; and the tea towel is, rather thrillingly, available here, and just as I remember it!



  1. Wonderful post. I hope you don't mind, but I have taken your posting references and used them here. Please let me know if you would rather I removed the reference to your blog.

  2. Hi Stay Well, yes, it's me and my soapbox :-) no point having a blog without hopping up on it from time to time!

    Kay, feel free to link. Your exhibition looks very interesting! Pity it's in the wrong country for me.


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