Taking responsibility feels good. Knowing you put in a hard days work, taking care of paying your bills, helping someone who needs it. Just a few examples of being a responsible citizen and community member. Responsibility is keeping yourself and others out of harm’s way. That’s how I define it. Harm, no matter what form, it just isn’t good.
I think about things in terms of Karma, a simple way of a universal checks and balances. We can cause unintentional harm. This doesn’t lessen our responsibility to make things right.
I like men, and especially like when a Circle involves some discussion about being a man is owning up to what you did. Taking responsibility. It is a mixture of humility (I did wrong) and I’m strong enough to admit I made a mistake. It’s not always easy for men to do this (in my experience). This study, found that men are less likely than women to take responsibility for dating violence and more likely to put blame on their partner.
I listen closely to men when doing prep work for Restorative Justice. You have to listen in to the types of words they use. I’ve asked for some words to be substituted, and we talk about why those are important. One example is when a person says they “caught” charges. As if these have been thrown off a truck, and accidentally on the lap. I have asked a man how he wants things to change, he started with “she needs . . .”. I pushed our conversation to an area of where do we really have control. I think men like control. I helped, or tried to help, by identifying the thing we control is our reaction to events. The way we respond. I asked for an example of mends-making, and asked about the feelings that followed.
When preparing people for a Restorative Justice experience giving them pathways in the brain, to remember how it felt to make amends, or how it changed a relationship for the better, empowers the individual. When you empower others to finding their own course to restoration or healing experiences, you can be assured the change might be more lasting. I love offering a moment that gives another an Ah-HA! I didn’t do it, they did, they found that making amends, repairing harm and building bridges to belonging is the natural order of being human.