In China, where the one-child-per-couple policy has been strictly enforced, and boys are the preference, parents in recent years have had to make tough choices – or, worse, those choices have been made for them by the government.
One Chinese woman, Chai Ling, is fighting back. Now an American citizen and herself a mother, Ling is best known as the ringleader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student uprising, and is speaking out on behalf of Chinese mothers who have been forced into having abortions or sterilizations. Her new humanitarian effort supports the raising of girls in China, not only to save lives but to change the common preference for boys.
Complicating the issue are deeply ingrained beliefs, along with a society that depends on male children to care for aging parents. Sociologists have also proved that when there are more men than women, instability and crime increase, and that has happened in China. But there’s more to this than concern about conditions for women in China and other parts of the world. The critical issue is the failure to truly value women and the major role they play in society’s overall health and progress – from the raising and educating of children, to contributing in the workforce and partnering with their husbands.
As a spiritual expression, motherhood is evidenced in protection, patient caring, unconditional love, gentleness, peace. The concept was important enough to Mary Baker Eddy that she listed “God” first in her description of Mother in the glossary of “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” (see p. 592). She insisted that God is both Mother and Father, emphasizing the need for balance. In answer to the question “Do you believe in God?” her bold response was: “I believe more in Him than do most Christians, for I have no faith in any other thing or being.... To me God is All. He is best understood as Supreme Being, as infinite and conscious Life, as the affectionate Father and Mother of all He creates...” (“Unity of Good,” p. 48).
To understand God as our Parent is to understand the reason for one’s very life. Think what the world would be like without our infinite expression of the affectionate Father-Mother, of “conscious Life.” This Life eternally preserves and protects its creation. The protection Moses’ mother gave him resulted in the raising of a leader and the freeing of a nation. The protection Jesus’ parents gave him when Herod was intent on killing all the male babies resulted in the greatest teacher and healer the world has ever known.
Just as a child needs protection and mothering, so does the world. It needs similar fearless examples of women and motherhood. A mother to comfort it, to love it, to help its children love each other, to nurture it, and to be advocates for peace. And this tangible expression of motherhood comes from the fact that our Mother truly is Love. Each time we choose to move beyond hate to find peaceful solutions in homes and government, this is evidence of God’s shepherding love. When we advocate for our neighbor, resolve schoolyard battles, or bring inspired solutions to negotiating tables, we are standing for Love’s motherhood. And since we each reflect the wholeness of God, there is no barrier to the expression of fatherhood and motherhood in both men and women.
We can all cherish the spiritual nature of motherhood now. We can diligently pray for the preservation and expression of a mother’s natural impulse to love and care for her offspring and bring equality and fairness to her children’s upbringing. Our prayers can take the stand that throughout the world, regardless of custom or even dire economic need, the one great Mother is continuously expressed, is guarding Her children and bringing about sensible, healing solutions.
In recent years, the Chinese government has made efforts to address the gender imbalance and educate the population on the inherent value of girls. They have even launched campaigns to show that the preference of boys over girls is “old thinking.” And they have begun to change many laws, leading toward greater equity between men and women.
These are good and useful steps, and they will be more successful if they are supported by our individual prayer that the value of motherhood be seen and cherished around the world. Such prayer will enhance tenderness, strengthen courage, reveal love, and open hearts. And since our prayers will be empowered by our omnipotent Mother, we can expect change – good change – to bless everyone.
From an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel.