Conflict transformation (not just conflict resolution nor conflict management) for restorative (and not just punitive nor retributive) justice involves the following basic elements, and I see them at work in our solidarity act on Aug. 26:
1. Truth – calling for transparency in governance
2. Justice – calling for doing Right by all
3. Mercy – (this we may yet have to be more conscious of) seeing the “perpetrators” as human beings–and yes, “victims”! (of their own greed, the system) –too and avoiding cruel name-calling and jokes just to rant and rave–well, at least, not in public, as a good start– and just focus on the issues at hand (“condemn the sin/the system, not the sinner”)…. soooo, sooooo hard to do but do-able, by the Grace of God!)
4. Reconciliation – fundamentally a healing of relationships, within ourselves first, then with each other (which is a manifestation of a healing of our own intimate relationships with God), and a healing of our nation
From “Truth, Justice, Mercy, Peace” —
What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative justice is a process to involve, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in a specific offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs and obligations, in order to heal and put things right as possible. The Little Book of Restorative Justice, Howard Zehr, 2002, p. 37.
Restorative justice is basically common sense – the kind of lessons our parents and foreparents taught. This has led some to call it a way of life. When a wrong has been done, it needs to be named and acknowledged. Those who have been harmed need to be able to grieve their losses, to be able to tell their stories, to have their questions answered – that is, to have the harms and needs caused by the offense answered. They – and we – need to have those who have done wrong accept their responsibility and take steps to repair the harm to the extent it is possible.
–Howard Zehr, professor of restorative justice at EMU
Translated into a set of principles, restorative justice calls one to:
- focus on the harms and consequent needs of the victims, as well as the communities’ and the offenders’;
- address the obligations that result from those harms (the obligations of offenders as well as the communities’ and society’s’);
- use inclusive, collaborative processes to the extent possible;
- involve those with a legitimate stake in the situation, including victims, offenders, community members and society;
- seek to put right the wrongs.
That is the essence of the kingdom of God – setting things to rights, as N.T. Wright says.
(Certainly not all perpetrators are interested in restoration. There is still a thing called “evil” in this world. We are not addressing that here in this article. For more on that, see “Evil and the Justice of God“, N.T. Wright)
Dorothy Vaandering says what is needed in restorative justice is a concerned effort to remind us all of the following:
- Justice is a call to recognize that all humans are worthy and to be honored.
- Injustice occurs when people are objectified.
- The term restorative justice becomes meaningful when it refers to restoring people to being honored as human.
(quoted from Howard Zehr’s blog )
Restorative justice is fragile. It hinges on people taking determined steps to relentlessly pursue their healing despite the pain it may bring. It challenges us to growth, to imagine beyond the current status quo and to take the creative risk of feeling and acting in a different, yet deeply courageous way.
–Carl Stauffer, EMU restorative justice professor
Restorative justice incorporates Truth, Justice and Mercy. When this occurs, there is room for Peace. And the possibility of reaching reconciliation. I long for the day when restorative Justice becomes the norm. In the mean time, we can practice it with whatever opportunities we are provided.
Can individuals, communities & societies make the choice to transform great suffering into great wisdom? Can trauma be seen as an invitation to spiritual, emotional and societal transformation?
If we say “yes”, the resulting journey is spiritual work of the deepest sort.
The journey leads into the depths of ourselves as individuals and groups.
Here we come face-to-face with our own darkness.
In this unlikely place, grace abounds, & transformation & hope begins.”– Elena Zook Barge