Please note that I am somewhat scrupulous
My family and I will soon return to the states after going on a one-month vacation to Asia and the Pacific. As much as I enjoyed it, I can not help but feel that I have gravely sinned and will continue to. Allow me to explain. I do not fly too much, so I was a bit uneducated in regards to customs laws. If I recall correctly, in our previous vacations, my father would always fill out the customs forms for the whole family. He would also check the box “nothing to declare” on the form. Now that I have grown older and wiser (and perhaps more scrupulous), I have grown more suspicious as to why my father would not declare any items (even the gifts that we bought from the states to give to our relatives in the Philippines and Japan) even though some of the forms ask that we declare such items. So, I decided to do some research. I read up on American and some other countries’ customs laws and found that, basically and for America at least, ANY ITEMS THAT YOU DID NOT HAVE WITH YOU AT THE START OF YOUR TRIP MUST BE DECLARED; ANY UNDECLARED ITEMS MAY RESULT IN FINES OR CONFISCATIONS OF THOSE ITEMS.
This got me worried and feeling guilty. My parents bought me some really fashionable clothing from a store called Kultura Filipino in the Philippines (most notably a Fedora) that I would like to use when I get back stateside. Can I use any of these items with a clear conscience knowing that my dad lied to the government in order to get them past customs?
So I decided to discuss this with my parents. I have to admit, their reactions made me feel like was wrong to question them. That is why I would like some second opinions. My parents seemed rather irritated when I confronted them on this issue. For example, I could not tell if my dad was being defensive of a wrongdoing he committed or indignant at me for implying that he was a “smuggler.” My mother cried because I thought I was taking things too seriously and said I was being “too good.” She also said things like “I know you are afraid of sinning, but let it fall on us so that you do not have to feel guilty.” My dad even threatened to leave me at one of the airports to take care of the customs for them if I felt that not declaring goods was so wrong. Now you know why I am confused as to whether it was necessary to bring this up. I could not tell if I was in the wrong or not.
Anyway, they said that “declaring everything” is too burdensome. They would have to declare every piece of toiletry or scrap of paper that they had in their possession since the trip started. It is only common sense that Customs Agents do not want to be bothered with the small details. They said Customs Agents know that it is natural for people to buy souvenirs on long vacations, so there is no need to declare souvenirs. Besides, they have more things to worry about like contraband, drugs, guns, and illegal importation of commercial goods and commercial quantity of goods. And because the goods we bought and received are below $800 for the each of us and we are not carrying anything illegal, it is ok to not trouble the customs agents unnecessarily and not declare these goods. (Please note that I did not approach them on the gifts they gave to our relatives in Japan and the Philippines). It was already close to midnight and we were all tired so I decided to end the discussion there.
My parents were pretty stressed out as a result of this discussion. It does not help that my paternal grandfather died during our vacation (so my dad is technically supposed to mourn during our vacation). My dad is probably even more stressed out. I do not know what to do. My dad did offer that I write my own customs forms for my fashionable clothing and submit it to him for approval but he said that he was not going to approve it anyway and still check “nothing to declare.” So, to not stress out my parents further, I decided to drop the issue entirely.
However, I feel guilty. Now that you know my situation, may you please help me? Is it morally wrong to disobey secular authority like this? Have I been an accessory to their customs violations? Have I done enough to admonish them? Lastly, is it right for me to make use of the clothing that my parents bought for me knowing that they did not go through customs? Please help me out and forgive me if I was being too scrupulous. Thank you in advance and God bless.
Please just ask if you want me to clarify things. I could not describe this in detail, because we only have on laptop in our possession right now. I do not want my parents to find out I am still worrying about this