Restorative Justice Circles powered by the strength of vulerability.

The title of this blog post seems like an oxymoron – vulnerability is not usually associated with strength, at least in the first associations of what is typically considered strong.  The first image that appeared in the Google Image search shows a white, male arm, with a large flexed muscle.  Restorative Justice process is about strength of the heart.

Immage from: http://andymcphee.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/how-to-develop-strong-textbook-features/

Restorative Justice strength is about showing people that accessing your inner strength and wisdom is human.  The kind of strength vulnerability gives, is the strength earned from growing and healing from tough places, situations, experiences. (harmer/offender)

Sometimes you put yourself in the path and cause the harm.  Sometime life and people around you create circumstances that require you to address your healing.  (harmed/victim)
A key aspect of Restorative Justice work, is the view that people are capable of change.  Restorative Justice framework fosters healing experiences.  The intentions and actions of a Circle-keeper or facilitator need to be consistent in treating everyone fairly, with respect and with the belief that healing is possible.  Here is a link, to an earlier blog, related to creating a healing experience.
Some Circles quickly and effortlessly move to a place of deep sharing.  This is usually related to the first person becoming vulnerable, by sharing with the Circle and opening up.  This vulnerability is picked up and others open up.  When people open up and talk differently to each other that they do in everyday life, magic happens.
Did you know that “fuck you” could be used in a sentence and it would be a compliment?  Neither did I, until a young man was talking about “judging others”.  He was having a strong and connected experience with the Circle.  He used an example from our relationship.
“. . . ya, like when I met Kris, I thought, oh authority figure.  Fuck you.  It turns out your really nice, it’s like you actually care. . .”
I don’t know why, admitting what you thought before – and what you think now isn’t more central to our conversations.  To admit you were wrong is usually seen as that vulnerability.  However, great strength lies in sharing what we have learned with others.
Another big, flexed muscle of strength in Restorative Justice is the power of relating to values.  For some reason, some people have learned that it is NOT okay to trust others.  We have learned that respect must be earned, rather than be deserved.  By creating a safe space, focused on relationship values, you can bring people to a conversation level that reaches our SCVRJP motto:  Change of behavior by a change of heart.  (I also add in Restorative Justice Circle process, a talking piece, open and closing, etc ).  The power in a Circle can leave you feeling like you just had an energy drink – as shared with a recent Circle.  I have heard the reflection that the Circle was like having a really good slumber party.  You can leave changed and leave others changed from a Restorative Justice Circle experience.  Use the strength and leverage of values and connection.