Restorative Justice (RJ) isn’t a new idea but in the modern day world of criminal justice, few people know about the tremendous impact it is having in different parts of the world. In an era where everyone likes to talk about being tough on crime and locking away or executing the bad guys, RJ is making strides in areas our criminal justice system never could on its own.
The following podcast is to introduce the concept and practice of restorative justice as it is being used to address crime on a individual as well as mass scale. As we watch citizens of nations throughout North Africa and the Middle East, as well as in the United States, rise up and demand justice, it is more important then ever to examine how to best achieve this justice and address the emotion and trauma that comes with it.
My guests are: Les Davey – CEO of the International Institute for Restorative Practice UK
Howard Zehr – Professor of Restorative Justice at Eastern Mennonite University’s graduate Center for Justice and Peacebuilding and is the editor of The Little Books of Justice and Peacemaking series.
After many weeks without a vlog entry, this one was recorded today as I floated through the Oud West. Its short and addresses the recent changes in Zimbabwe where opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has now joined in the government of Robert Mugabe as prime minister. Which begs the question, is this good news? Oh and yes the video at the end comes from the fine people at the guardian.co.uk.
Remind me to visit the staff of Radio Netherlands and buy everyone at The State We’re In a drink. Week in and week out the crew produces excellent audio programs on topics related to human rights and human wrongs.
In their latest program they hit yet another homerun with a segment that just reached out and grabbed me; forgiveness.
While I was raised in a fairly religious family, I myself don’t have a religion, nor do I want one.Â But one of those lessons many religions seem to try to teach people, is the importance of forgiveness.Â Throughout the world there are so many terrible conflicts… and when these conflicts end… if they are really to end.. forgiveness seems to me a very essential stage.Â Yet after many conflicts you don’t often see that many truth and reconciliation processes.
In their latest program, The State We’re In speaks with someone from the Forgiveness Project, which is all about understanding and inspiring forgiveness. And later in the program they go to a park in South Africa, know as Freedom Park, which is dedicated to the idea of forgiveness; a place where people (victim or perpetrator) can tell their stories and make amends.
I highly recommend you listen to this segment, and the program in general. If there’s one thing the world could use more of, it is forgiveness.
A friend of mine, the man who introduced me to ulimate frisbee, started the first ever league in Liberia. Years later he would introduce the sport in Trinidad and last I heard he was in Madagascar surely throwing disc with the local population.
Over the weekend I’m sitting down to dinner after the first day of an exhausting tournament here in Amsterdam, and one of the more recent arrivals to our league started talking about his own experience. Having recently moved to the Netherlands from Colorado, he spoke about how confident he was that he wouldn’t feel alone or lacking in things to do since there would surely be ultimate in the Netherlands. Indeed I’ve noticed, just as he said, the fact that in a very short time, he has become a beloved member of the Amsterdam frisbee family.
And that’s the magic that made me want to write today… the global tradition that welcomes you no matter where you are. The social sport that transcends language and culture, giving you that sense of belonging even in a place where maybe you otherwise don’t belong.
Then there’s the typical statement you hear for all team sports… the bringing together of different people from different walks of life.. for a social meetup and sporting competition. Where conflicts are resolved peacefully on the field, and differences are embraced as something to be cherished and shared. Classic explanation of a sport, but as far I’m concerned, the world could use less talk of going to war and preparing to fight allegedly insane and dangerous “enemies” that are – of course – so different from us. If they only designated more parks and fields, and made more funds available for these kinds of activities.. then you’d see real conflict resolution and cross cultural understanding.
But of course, compared to the military business that helps make certain politicians and corporations unfathomably wealthy – encouraging a nonprofit peace enhancing sport is apparently bad business.