I Am Called To Take Up Abolition in America Once Again
There are two Friends and friends, who I truly love more than life itself. We differ on the subject of slavery in America and the use of unfair labor in China. Tonight, I find myself not able to sleep, listening to the windchimes of the downstairs neighbors. And rather than cursing their windchimes, I find I am seeking words to convince Friends that we must address the reality of slavery in the USA once again.
Our Meeting's shelter uses sheets cleaned by prison labor. I cannot bring myself to touch those packages marked by the label of the slavery which brings it to our place of worship. Friends tell me that those in prison must have work to do, and that the place to address the slavery of prison is at the source, at the inequality of opportunity which leads to lack of equal access to jobs and easy access to drugs.
And yet, I see in these answers a similarity to the past notion that we lift Africans out of ignorance by ... well ... the "well intentioned kindness practiced on Quaker plantations," as the member of our faith said who once claimed ownership over other humans. Like Elias Hicks, I cannot sway these Friends from their conviction that the product of prison labor is not a convenience which we must afford ourselves and there belief that labor is good and meaningful for the laborer who is not free.
And, yet, Friend Elias' final point on slavery, which won out almost two hundred years ago returns to mind. No human entered slavery other than at the point of a sword or a gun, and so, we Friends who deny ourselves prize goods, cannot own these humans and call our selves Friends and Chlidren of Light.
No human behind bars came to that place, other than at the point of a gun and wearing the chains of the wars of crime and the wars on crime. The simple truth is that the production of the prison system are prize goods and we Friends must not touch them.
For that matter, the production of a nation which murders trade unionists outright, shoots them on the factory floor or drags them away to disappear in lonely secret places where extrajudicial killings silence the voice of labor -- such goods are also prize goods and more than advised against in our Quaker traditions, they are forbidden to our souls in the statement of our Peace Testimony.
Let others make war, and let others constructively engage the slave state. I can endorse the inroads, but I cannot touch the product stained with the blood of victims of the savagery of war and slavery.