24. WOMEN - AS MOTHERS
August is the anniversary of the Women's Strike for Equality, a nationwide US demonstration for women's rights, described by Time magazine as "the first big demonstration of the Women's Liberation movement".
Its object was called by the National Organisation for Women (NOW) "the unfinished business of equality".
It offers a good opportunity to look back and review the progress made since that time; how have conditions improved in the workplace and in the home?
Bahai teachings describe the mother as the first educator. O HANDMAID of God!… To the mothers must be given the divine Teachings and effective counsel, and they must be encouraged and made eager to train their children, for the mother is the first educator of the child. It is she who must, at the very beginning, suckle the newborn at the breast of God’s Faith and God’s Law, that divine love may enter into him even with his mother’s milk, and be with him till his final breath. So long as the mother faileth to train her children, and start them on a proper way of life, the training which they receive later on will not take its full effect. ---Abdul-Baha, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá / 113:
What an amazing responsibility! What a great privilege it is to train and educate a child! And what a travesty if we fail...
So how well are we preparing mothers for this greatest of all roles? Where are the courses and classes for mothers and hopeful mothers-to-be, and for parents in general?
Expectations of material needs and wants have risen to reflect higher incomes. The relatively simple lives of a previous generation of parents who had more time to spend with their families has shrunk. The expectation of regular international holidays has increased, along with frequent replenishing of clothes, household goods and furnishings.
In this process, babies have been relegated to Day Care centres, the elderly to Rest homes, the disabled to institutions. Fathers have felt at a loss as to what their roles should be. The family has become a great place for cats and dogs but a very unsafe place for people.
Today the most important problems reported to be facing many of us are mental health and housing related, but also reflect a world facing economic, war and terrorism problems in almost equal measure.
The biggest global problems are now economic issues - poverty and the gap between rich and poor - and over-population. Following this are problems associated with war and terrorism, security issues, and the refugee crisis. In addition are climate change, Donald Trump, social apathy, lack of values, lack of empathy towards others, intolerance and issues related to Government, politicians and political unrest.
All this paints a picture of 'domestic' issues that extend far beyond our shores. The personal has indeed become the political.