Yesterday I was on a video call with our dedicated staff and volunteers. We were discussing one of our recent youth restorative justice conferences to learn and debrief. As we adjust to doing this very personal work online, there are poignant conversations about how to show up in these online spaces with authenticity and vulnerability. At the core, what we do in restorative justice and using restorative practices is model how to have hard conversations. Our goal is to help participants develop empathy for the person they impacted in a hurtful way, for their families, community and for themselves. Often, the root of criminal or harmful behavior starts with a lack of self-empathy. We can support a lifelong change for young people and adults who would otherwise be caught in the criminal justice system. For those who have been victimized, we provide a process for them to safely voice their needs to the very person who caused them harm and ask for information and actions that will help them heal.
The work of engaging in difficult conversations using restorative practices is a paramount need in our community and our world. I am not only proud to work each day in service to this cause but am also humbled. As I walk this new path of a changing world with you, I find myself vacillating between mechanisms that protect and those that connect and open. The choice before us all is this – will we harden, out of fear against the pain of uncertainty and loss or will we soften allowing our minds and hearts to open and feel deeply? It is not an easy task to hold both protection and connection, it is easier to flip the switch one way or the other. The call before us now is to both protect when it makes sense and stay connected and vulnerable.
Listening to a recent podcast by Brene’ Brown with guest David Kessler about grief, I was struck by the simplicity of a statement he made. “Judgement demands punishment.” Our work as restorative facilitators is not to judge. The goal is to create a safe and confidential environment for participants to discuss their actions honestly, hear about the hurt caused to others including family and community and discover the impacts to themselves. Judgement would make these discoveries nearly impossible. We protect ourselves against judgement by hiding, denying and disconnecting from others.
Full Circle Restorative Justice continues to offer these rare and vital services to those most underrepresented and most impacted by justice system disparities. As the only provider of these services throughout all of Chaffee, Custer, Fremont and Park county, we need your support. Consider how you might give of your skills, time and resources, donations can be made online. I miss seeing your lovely faces in community and would love to hear from you.
Lead, live, love,