"power concedes nothing without a demand. it never did and it never will."

Campaigners are overwhelmed and overjoyed at yesterday's excellent news, the Federal Court of Appeals decision in favour of Jeremy Hinzman. I haven't spoken to any war resisters yet. I imagine they are happy, but perhaps also wary of hope. I'll see people at tonight's meeting, which is sure to be celebratory.

I just went back and re-read what I wrote after the hearing itself. Two things jump out.
The best possible outcome would be the Court ordering a new review of Jeremy's H&C by a different officer, which could potentially affect the outcome of all the war resisters' cases. This is unlikely to happen and we are not counting on it.
The Federal Court of Appeals is a conservative body, and they are unlikely to break any new ground on the question in these issues.

But still, there is hope. And while we're hoping, we continue working for what we really need: a political solution.

I have come away from these court hearings feeling that a positive decision was inevitable, only to have my hopes dashed with an inexplicable negative. And I have felt nearly hopeless, only to be overjoyed - a court-ordered second IRB hearing for Joshua Key, a court-ordered new H&C for the Riveras, and now this.

When, many months ago, Alyssa Manning told the campaign that the Federal Court of Appeals had agreed to "certify a question," we knew it was risky. A negative decision could have adversely affected every war resister's case. Jeremy and Nga, after much soul-searching and somewhat reluctantly, as I understand it, decided to go ahead with it. We were thrilled, because it meant they were still fighting, not succumbing to deportation and prison. We raised money for the appeal and did what we could to support it. But did we dare hope?

My point is, you never know. You can never know the future outcome of your struggle. You cannot predict the results in advance. If you need a guarantee of success, then you cannot fight. And if you cannot fight, you will never win.

You never know the results of the struggles you appear to lose, either.

This fight isn't only about the 50 or so US war resisters left in Canada who are publicly petitioning the government for permanent residence. It's not even only about what kind of Canada we want to live in. It is certainly about both of those things. But this campaign is also about moral courage and how we can join it and support it. It's about how to create a space for peace.

Who knows how the ripples of this campaign have spread outward? Who knows what other soldiers, struggling with heavy hearts and torn consciences, have been moved by hearing about the war resisters in Canada, and have said to themselves, I ain't gonna study war no more? Every soldier who refuses to participate in war helps to create peace.

Here are two thoughts to consider.
You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing, there will be no result.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North, and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages, and make no resistance, either moral or physical. Men may not get all they pay for in this world; but they must certainly pay for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others.

Frederick Douglass, 1857

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