Everyone can relate in a Restorative Justice Talking Circle.

We were having a Circle to address harm related to threats with a firearm (I have to be vague for confidentiality).  It turns out that one of the community members/volunteers in Circle had a related experience.  A story was shared from the volunteers past, where a man threatened a woman with a firearm.  The volunteer shared that their Dad, got involved in the confrontation.  The story hit home on how deeply bystanders experience crimes.  The story was 15+ years after the incident, but was recalled like it was yesterday.

That’s a bulls-eye on the intention of the Circle.  Volunteers and community members sometimes tell me they don’t have any stories.  People assume since they haven’t ever done X, they don’t have a story.  Everyone has a story, and maybe your story is that you don’t have a story.

It came up again, and the person sharing they didn’t have a story, went on to tell me the closest thing was when a principal had to jump over a locker bay to come break up a fight.  I said, “See, that’s a story!”  I went on to explain that some stories are on the bulls-eye and some are in a ring around it.  The idea is for people to understand harm from somebody else’s point of view.

I am working on developing a program where we have 3 people involved in drug court, and 3 family members of people in drug court.  Let’s say you and I are both in drug court.  I would have your Mom in Circle with me, you would be in Circle with my Mom. (hypothetically here) My Mom and I have baggage.  Mom blames herself for my drug use, she’s been so burned by me, she can’t see that I have remorse, or that I am trying.  I know she’s frustrated with me, but she’s my Mom. 

Now hypothetically, imagine me in a Circle with a woman and I learn about her.  I learn how her daughters drug use impacts her.  I can see it and feel it differently because we don’t have the baggage bonds I have with my Mom.  It will be healing for me, to understand her, and better understand my own Mom.  It will be helpful to her, because she may see her daughter in me.

That is what pulls community together, when we reduce isolation.  When crime/conflict occurs people have lost their belonging.  They have lost and hurt relationships to people close to them.  Restorative Justice repairs relationships.  When we find, in others, something similar to ourselves, we get connected.  That connection heals a little something. 

A little healing goes a long way.  I believe healing on the inside is the biggest factor in our personal growth and change.  Find your Mom in someone else, try to gain a little perspective, you may find it helps.