When I wake up on Mother’s Day, I’m reminded of two things: One of them is my mother, and the other is not. Like everyone else, I spend a few minutes thinking about how my mother performed herculean labors of child-bearing and child-rearing. I dig up a few personal memories, like the time she made a topographical map of Japan out of Model Magic so I could pass third grade, or the time she picked me up from school early after learning I had the stomach flu and had vomited on another student.
Then, unlike everyone else, I think about all the pink bats, gloves, wristbands and — this year, balls — I’ll see in the day’s Major League Baseball games. Like most other conspicuous incidents of pinkness, it’s a show of solidarity with the medical community’s ongoing efforts to combat breast cancer. After the day’s games are done, the pink equipment is auctioned off to collectors of baseball memorabilia, and the proceeds go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Susan G. Komen is a well-known organization, and its pink-ribbon marketing campaign has achieved success previously unimaginable for a charity. Its logo is on everything from yogurt cartons to airplanes, and it has essentially invented the concept of “conscientious consumption.” That is, consuming one’s usual goods and services, this time with the knowledge that a small portion of the profits will go to the fight against breast cancer.
There is an ongoing debate lately, which you probably have never considered and maybe never should: I’ve already taken the plunge, and I’m resolved to take you with me, so ask yourself now, does solidarity have its limits? Is the spectacle of pink that we see every Mother’s Day ridiculous, maybe even detracting the spirit of filial love?
I think the answers, here, are yes and no, respectively. Solidarity definitely has its limits. I remember some more politically engaged classmates in high school who would tape their mouths shut on what seemed like a monthly basis. Why exactly the day was to be silent was never clear to me; after all, the people most invested in the cause were keeping mum. All that I could glean from the performance was that somehow a statement was being made in solidarity for some silent group — whether it was child soldiers, rape victims, closeted homosexuals or abused animals was harder to determine. When, like then, solidarity serves only to confuse and posture politically, something’s gone wrong.
But I don’t think that’s what’s happening on Mother’s Day. For example, the Major League Baseball auction is one of the few things Major League Baseball does to justify the many hours I’ve invested in its games. I think the many participants that come together for the auction do so in good faith, and that, indeed, breast cancer is a worthy foe for the hundreds of thousands of dollars raised.
Moreover, you’ll see MLB’s efforts mimicked in various guises across the country once a year. Marathons will be run in solidarity, breakfast foods will be bought en masse. For the fundraisers at Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Mother’s Day is a kind of Christmas, and I really believe that each Mother’s Day brings us closer to the end of breast cancer.
I think, in the end, solidarity runs on good faith, and that’s why I’m particularly partial to solidarity on Mother’s Day. I can see, all around me, nothing but good faith for moms and the cancer-afflicted. The pink bats that will be used in the day’s games are tokens of honesty and symbols of appreciation. The whole thing brings me back to my first recollection each Mother’s Day. I’m back in third grade, and I’ve woken up to a complete Model Magic topographical map of Japan. It’s very clear my mother didn’t sleep well last night, and Mother’s Day is still a month and a half away.
Ben Moss: “Mom, you there? Pick up, I spewed in lecture again. Hello? Mom? Mommy? Moooom!”
A version of this article appeared on page 16 of the Thursday, May 16, 2013 print edition of the Nexus.