Mothers on the streets seek peace

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Mothers on the streets seek peace

A friend who delayed marriage and children told me, “Sorry, but I pray for peace in the universe for the next 100 years after having my child.”

Why is she apologizing anyway? We used to comfort each other by saying, “We are already screwed in this life, so let’s live for the day.”

But after she became a mother, she changed her mind. Now, she prays every day that a gigantic meteorite does not fall on the earth and that global warming doesn’t get worse.

The power of motherly love is amazing. She made me feel that being a parent is the best way to expand social empathy and awareness. In 2008, mothers with strollers protested the import of U.S. beef in Korea. Since then, Korean mothers have had a strong voice in social issues from free school meals to the Sewol ferry tragedy to the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) outbreak.

Aside from the debate over whether it was ethical to bring children along to the protests, there is no doubt about their sincerity in their hopes to raise their children safely and make the world a better place.

“No one’s children should be killed” and “Children are not born to kill others or be killed!” are slogans that Japanese mothers used in their protests in Tokyo last weekend. Thousands of mothers in Tokyo, Niigata, Kyoto, Fukuoka and other cities in Japan rallied against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s controversial security program that passed the Lower House two weeks ago.

The new bills would make Japan a country capable of engaging in a war, and mothers are anxious that their children may someday have to fight in battle overseas.

What do moms know about politics? A 27-year-old mother of three, Minako Saigo, who organized the “Mothers against War” protests in Tokyo said in an interview, “We are not experts in military and diplomatic affairs. But we are raising children at home every day, which highlights the importance of life.”

The mass protests of young Japanese against Japan’s renunciation of the Peace Constitution surprised me as they had seemed to be indifferent to politics. But the anger of the mothers on the street was more believable. A Japanese friend sent me a Facebook message, “I also participated in a protest for the first time in my life.”

When I was studying in Japan, I wondered why there was not a single political poster to be found on college campuses there, and this friend had said, “What? Should there be any?”

But for her newborn baby, she went out on the street to protect a peaceful Japan. I hope their voices can change the world. Mothers around the world are defenders of world peace.

The author is a culture and sports news writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 29, page 30

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