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Mother’s Day: My Salute to the Working Mother

On this Mother’s Day, let’s sing a praise for the working, sacrificing mother all over the world.

Partha Banerjee
Wed, May 15 2013

Migrant Mother: Portrait of Florence Thompson with several of her children

The views expressed by the blogger and the subsequent comments by readers do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of Prabashi Post

About Partha

Dr. Partha Banerjee grew up in Kolkata and is a New York-based labor educator and human rights activist. He takes special pride in his many writings and talks on cultural identity and erosion. He recorded his new Tagore CD "Aro Ektu Bosho" in 2012.

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Whose Mother’s Day and for whom?

Mother’s Day is meaningless if it’s all about the shopping malls and restaurants and gifts and jewellery and wealth to show off. Mother’s Day is NOT about money. Mother’s Day is not an annual, self-gratifying event.

To me, Mother’s Day is about the working mother. To me, Mother’s Day is about the ever-sacrificing mother.

I hope people all over the world reflect on this Mother’s Day what it is truly all about: mothers who are sacrificing their entire lives for their families, children and society. The ordinary mothers I’ve seen in my life — both in India, Bengal and here in the United States — who have become extraordinary by their enormous sacrifice, by their enormous desire to live with hope and dignity. Mother’s Day is all about the high optimism of working women all over the world — an optimism that gives this man-made depressing state of the world a ray of hope. In fact, I first saw this ray of hope in my mother’s eyes.

My mother worked at home. The global mother works at home…and outside…and then again at home. She works in factories, schools, farms, forests, mines, high rises, mud houses, offices, courts, restaurants, kitchens, groceries, laundries, sewers, sewing machines, toll booths, tramways, railways, hallways, hospitals…and at home. She takes care of the young babies. She takes care of the older babies. She doesn’t pause. She doesn’t take a break. She doesn’t rest. We often never think of her well-being. We never pause and say: thank you, mother. We never say, thank you, mother, without you, I would never be.

We never say, mother, you live too.

In Dhaka, Bangladesh, Reshma was found alive 17 days after the man-made disaster when a huge building housing various multinational garment industries collapsed, killing more than a thousand poor workers. Thousands more — mostly young women working for these profiteering corporations and their corrupt bookies and agents and politicians — forever lost their limbs and livelihoods.

The continuing sweatshop fires and now this newest disaster have shown to the world how catastrophic the global economic tyranny has become. Wal-Mart, Gap, Disney, GE, Monsanto, Exxon-Mobil, Nike, H&M, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Nestle…with active help from IMF, World Bank, Wall Street and the big political parties…in the name of democracy…

Some of the pictures coming out of the building collapse quickly remind us of the historic destruction of Pompeii. The ancient natural disaster in Rome and today’s modern disaster in the Indian subcontinent have many striking resemblances. Buried bodies! Scalded bodies! Maimed bodies! Mangled bodies! Dead bodies piled up. Dead bodies of mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers, sons, daughters…hundreds of them! Thousands of them!

Two disasters - one natural – the other man-made. One gets scholars’ attention. The other gets media’s bypass. Yesterday’s Nero is hated. Today’s Neroes are let off the hook. Nobody questions.

In the midst of this horrifying, continuing march of death, Reshma survived. Brave rescue workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh, pulled her out of the colossal concrete rubble.

To me, Reshma is the symbol of this motherhood. What strength! What resilience! Salute to the working, sacrificing, and global mother.

On this Mother’s Day, let’s take a pause and reflect on the role the global mother is playing against all odds, to fight back against the global onslaught of greed, profit and destruction of society and human values.

On this Mother’s Day, let’s sing praise for the working, sacrificing mother all over the world.

Truth to my heart! Honest to my God!

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