Working with relationships, be mindful of your own sense of justice.

As a practitioner of restorative justice – I work to uncover the “justification” for the behavior.  You can’t go directly at this, people won’t share it unless they trust you.  You also have to be very, very careful of your own internal judgements.  You may hear the person’s justification as the “excuse” for why they did it.  You might here it as shifting blame to the victim.

That is why it is sooooo very, very important to (in cooperation with, in discovery with, as part of the restorative process) make sure the victimizer, offender, party who harmed acknowledges they caused the harm.  If you do this part without judging, you can empower the person who caused harm.  Because it is empowering to take responsiblity for your actions.

Not always easy.  People will lie about what they did to avoid getting in trouble.  The fear of punishment will often out weigh the adherence to our values.  Especially if we are under 25 years old (pre-frontal cortex/brain development).

I believe the way to do this work, is heart-centered.  It is SOO about being present with the person you are with.  It is being able to let go of your own judgements.  You have to understand the difference between disagreeing with someone and judging them.

When it comes to disagreemtn, I can be fine on  a few topics, and  just decide not to talk about it.  It is fine to agree to disagree.  These are usually bigger hot topics like the death penalty.  Some disagreements, I really wanted to change the other persons thinking.  I feel justified in continuing the debate, if the stakes seem higher.  For example, if I reach a conclusion that the issue might impact how I can be treated, or if a program issue is relevant to SCVRJP.  However, these are my judgements – I don’t really know if the impact will be on me or SCVRJP.

Judging will impact your behavior, because you feel “justified”.  If you disagree, you accept that persons place.  You accept your place and you move on.  Judgement leaves us tangled up in “right” and “wrong”.

An example of justification in a case:

Both parties charged with disorderly conduct.  Two young women fought.  One threw something at the other, and that “started” it.  Further back in time, they were friends, friend A & B.  Friend A’s boyfriend cheated on her with Friend B.  The friendship ended, the judgements did not, the disagreement escalated, the fight, the court, then restorative justice.  When processing the situation restoratively: 1)acknowledge you caused the harm 2)understand from someone elses point of view 3)recognize where you had a choice 4)make amends and 5)take action to change.

Each party was able to determine what could have been done differently – from the cheating, to the throwing of the trash, to the throwing of a punch.  Picking different friends and boyfriends were articulated as an action to change.  Walking away from conflict instead of fighting, was another realization.

Honestly, I felt like being angry at a friend who cheated with your boyfriend was justified.  I don’t think the physical violence was necessary.  I had to withhold judgement when I met friend B.  I had to remember that I disagreed with the behavior she picked, as much as I disagreed with the behavior to throw garbage at another person or to respond to that in violence.

People can feel when you are judging them.  To promote restorative justice, as practitioners you have to be very mindful of being neutral.  You can’t get to the heart of the matter, if you don’t do your work heart centered.