It is a fine Quaker tradition to go to jail for conscience sake. Recently, a Quaker from Pennsylvania, was arrested at the Canadian border for transporting 12 Haitians, who had been living in New Jersey without proper papers. She, Friend Janet Hinshaw- Thomas, will stand trial under the laws for human trafficking.
Now I don't yet agree with Friend Janet's action since I believe that nations have a right to determine their own immigration laws. The United States takes in one million immigrants a year, more than the rest of the world combined. But there are laws, there is a long waiting line.
Friend Janet might change my mind on this issue. I am open to that.
In addition, I would love to see the entire Haitian diaspora return to Haiti and help fix it. Estimates are that Haiti has lost 50 percent of its educated population. Imagine how bright these Haitians who just entered Canada are. They had already arrived in the United States and then found an agency, Friend Janet's, to help them get to Canada. Quebec doesn't need more educated Haitians - Haiti does.
But this is just an opinion.
My heart just sings to see a Quaker, or anyone, following their convictions to the end. It is a breathtaking event. Powerful, exhilarating for all involved.
I am pleased that I have met some other courageous people, who are willing to put their lives on the line, people who went to Palestine and accompanied children to school, a good friend who spent 6 months in prison for her convictions on closing the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, which specializes in teaching torture.
I have spent my time in jail - 40 days in Great Britain for speaking out against the war in Ireland back when Bobby Sands was fasting to death in Long Kesh. Years later, in Vieques, I was arrested as a Quaker with the support of my Meeting. Both were wonderful opportunities for my spiritual growth. This time I chose exile over imprisonment as I knew that I could not stay inside the United States and hold back my tongue and my feet during the current atrocities.
So my heart is with you, Friend Janet. I applaud you. I salute you.