Restorative Justice Community members in Circle, the power and influence of community.

Picture for a moment, two different scenario’s.  These begin the same.  Your car breaks down, by the side of the road.  Flat tire, engine light, something like that.  No one stops, you call a tow truck, you call a friend to come get you.

In the second situation, someone immediately pulls over and offers you assistance.  A second car comes along, people are kind, friendly and helpful.  You call a tow truck, you call a friend for a ride.

How do you imagine your  relationsnhip to your tow truck driver.  How do you imagine your relationship to the people who stopped to offer help?

It was Christmas Eve, and I was rushing home to catch the Kansas City Chiefs on TV, noon kick-off.   My car broke down.  It started to get cold, quickly.  I didn’t have a hat, but I got out, propped up my hood, looked at the steam and smoke that should not be there.  The wind was whipping my hair in my face.  I was at a loss of what to do.

A farmer stopped.  He drove an old truck like my Dad, he was farm dirty.  Which means he would wear those clothes again tomorrow, but just not to church.  He looked under the hood diagnosed the problem, told me it would need towed.  Even offered to do it, if I needed.

Thankfully I got someone at the tow truck shop.  I thanked the farmer and waited in my car.  He helped renew my faith in people.  He reminded me of what my Dad would do, I love my Dad.  I thought about the Farmer having a family.  Like my Dad, I bet he wouldn’t even mention stopping to help someone on Christmas eve.  I wished I had asked for his name.  He reminded me of the time I ran out of gas and the milk truck driver gave me a ride home.  I should have thanked him, but didn’t.  I had gratitude for people, as I waited in my cold car on Christmas Eve.

I don’t remember who towed my car.  I don’t recall a reminder about a family member or another tow truck driver.

When community members come to Circles, they are farmers.  They are stopping to help you.  They don’t know exactly what they are getting into, but they want to offer.  They bring the resouces they have as people.  Farmer knew engines, farmer knew women alone need help.  Restorative Justice volunteer community members, they know life.  They know mistakes, and they know support and conversation about wrongs, is a step to making them right.

Tow truck drivers get paid for what they do.  There is an expectation they will stop, they will help.  It doesn’t mean they don’t do a good job.  We need tow truck drivers AND we need farmers.

In restorative justice we strive of offer empathy, connections and self-worth.  I love seeing it play out that all parties that come to a Circle experience this.  Farmers/community members get the benefit of knowing they helped.  Helping feels good, it gives a sense of belonging.  I also find a little bit of purpose out of it.  As I am helped I want to help others.  It seems I’m not the only one that feels this way.  Our evaluations show that people really like the process, and identify that the restorative justice session will have an impact on future behavior.

Thanks to all the Restorative Justice Volunteers – Farmer types that help others.